Gothic Architecture in England and France

By George Herbert West | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
THE PERPENDICULAR STYLE -- PARISH CHURCHES -- TIMBER ROOFS

IN speaking of window tracery we have noticed how reticulated tracery gave rise to perpendicular, and we have seen the four-centred arch grow out of the necessities of lierne and fan vaulting. Further, we have remarked how the niches, the characteristic feature of Decorated work, invade the windows and make their glass into rows of individual figures, patron saints with their emblems, or donors with their armorial bearings.

While French art becomes more and more rigidly logical, while it retains its poetry of curve, and exquisite artistic feeling in its lace-like decoration, more and more the expression of a system, English art becomes more and more individual, the story of the work, or the tale of the glory of this man or of that. Again, an English building is the record of the facts of its history, often of the history of the nation, a French one of the ideal of the builder or of the race. Lastly, from the time of' Louis XI onwards, the history of France becomes increasingly that of the nobles, and art, like their lives, increasingly non-religious, luxurious, Italianized, detached from the faith of the people. The Church was becoming divorced from the State, and while the State frankly adopted the revival of classic art, the Church and its art sank into a cold and meaningless formalism, which at last expressed neither the ambition of the noble, the ideal of the nation, nor the faith of the people. Things were different in England. The political power of the great nobles had been destroyed by the Wars of the Roses, merchant princes were coming to the top, men of the people, sharing the faith of the people which, though shaken and changing, had never decayed. Instead of living apart in

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