Gothic Architecture in England and France

By George Herbert West | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
WINDOW TRACERY

BY the end of the twelfth century, both in France and England, the pointed arch had come into use, not only as a constructional expedient, as in the earlier part of the century, but as a decorative feature in all parts of a building. It appears first in England, as we have seen, in 1128-33 in the transverse arches of Durham nave, and shortly after in other vaults, as a means of covering vary- in spans with arches of the same height. By the middle of the century it is found used in the nave arches, as it Malmesbury (p. 211) in order to facilitate the vaulting of the aisles; and then gradually, as the eye became accustomed to the new form, it was used everywhere. In France, and especially in Southern and Central France, it appears earlier than in Normandy and England. In France the development of window tracery follows on that of the vault, and it therefore appears first in the clerestory windows. When the wall arch became pointed, the round- headed, rather broad Romanesque window changed its round arch for a pointed one, and all Notre Dame a little later, when the uselessness of the wall became apparent, and the desire for a larger field for the display of stained glass was making itself felt, the window was (1225) enlarged. The head was retained but the window was enormously lengthened by destroying the roses which had existed below, and by including in it the space covered by them and the triforium roof. This whole being far too large for glazing in one light, a central colonnette was inserted, carrying two small pointed arches, on which rests a huge circle of stone filling nearly all the space of the old Romanesque window (p. 120). Even so, the whole has required

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