Art and Architecture in Medieval France: Medieval Architecture, Sculpture, Stained Glass, Manuscripts, the Art of the Church Treasuries

By Whitney S. Stoddard | Go to book overview

Preface

This book deals with five centuries of French art, from the eleventh to the sixteenth century. After the year 1000 in France, or more precisely in the area which is modern France, a new style of architecture, sculpture, and painting, called Romanesque, came into being. Romanesque art was derived in part from the arts of the Carolingian and Ottonian Empires with their amalgam of Roman, Early Christian, and northern barbarian forms in a new synthesis with influences from the Mediterranean, Roman, and Byzantine traditions. The Romanesque style underwent many transformations as it spread across Western Europe. In the twelfth century in the ɩ + ̑le-de-France around Paris, a new Gothic style replaced Romanesque, and the great cathedral age was born. By the late 1190's and early decades of the thirteenth century, the experimental and probing styles of Early Gothic were resolved in the construction of Chartres and Bourges Cathedrals. These High Gothic cathedrals served in turn as models for Soissons, Reims, Amiens, and Beauvais. Again, this French creation became international in its influence. From the 1240's to the early sixteenth century, the dynamic evolution of artistic forms reveals no diminution of the urge to refine and change. The intention of this book is to treat the art of Medieval France as a totality. This approach attempts a unified discussion of architecture, sculpture, mural painting and stained glass windows, manuscripts, and liturgical objects within the changing historical ambient. Architecture is clearly the dominant art of Medieval France; sculpture and painting function monumentally and iconographically within the architectural context. Many historical studies concentrate singly on architecture or sculpture or stained glass, or inclusively on Romanesque art or Gothic art in Medieval Europe as a whole. Some but by no means all of the great monasteries and cathedrals have been studied in detailed monographs. This book confines itself to Medieval France and attempts to view all the arts as dynamically interrelated. The text is written not from a point of view first determined by theory and then illustrated by example, but from one derived from the illustrations of major French monuments themselves. No monument is analyzed which is not illustrated in detail.

Part I discusses Romanesque France (c. 1000- c. 1140), the monastic site, the monastic plan, the church, its sculpture, mural painting, and the evolution and variety of architectural and sculptural forms. No attempt is made to delineate all the regional Romanesque styles. Rather, key monuments in all the arts are stressed, and the homogeneity of Romanesque is emphasized by comparisons of selected sculpture, murals, manuscripts, and enamels.

Part II contains an analysis of Early Gothic monuments in the ɩ + ̑le-de-France set within the changing historical context. Individual chapters are devoted to the Abbey of Saint-Denis and the cathedrals of Sens, Noyon, Laon, and Paris, as well as to Early Gothic portals and stained glass windows. An attempt is made to explain why a new style replaced Romanesque initially in a small area around Paris.

Part III includes chapters on the great High

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