These summaries of the five principal phases of Christian art were contributed as articles to Liturgical Arts. The absence of any survey of mediaeval art in English will perhaps be the best justification of their publication as a book.
The view here set forth of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance that followed them may diminish for the reader the quaintness of the one and the glamor of the other. The writer hopes, in return, and in spite of the brevity of treatment, that there may result a juster picture of the mediaeval time as that which begot the modern realistic attitude and a more sober appreciation of the Renaissance as the fons et origo of many modern ills along with its indubitable contributions to progress.
There is a test of civilizations, or cultural epochs, well known and trusted by the historian of art. It is: what was produced by this or that race, or period, in architecture? Was the collective thought thereof sufficiently fresh, positive, and confident to produce in architecture a new and original style? It is worth pondering that, if exception be made of derivative manners, the two architectures of Europe which may without reservation be called original were produced by classic Greece and mediaeval France. They were thus produced because they were needed for the expression of two contrasting points of view, so different that the one could in no wise have originated from the other. The one viewed the world with the serenity of intellectual detachment, transforming experience instinctively into ideas. The other never extricated itself enough from circumstance to . . .