It is difficult to find the right words to describe impressions from the Gothic Cathedral. They are high and reach for the sky endless arrows of towers and turrets, visperhof, finials, pointed arches. But more striking is not so much the height as the richness of aspects that open when you circle around the Cathedral.
Gothic cathedrals are not only high, but also very long: for example Chartres has a length of 130 meters and the length of the transept is 64 meters, and to work around around it is required to pass at least half a kilometer. And with each point the Cathedral looks new. Unlike the Romanesque Church with its clear, easily foreseeable forms, the Gothic Cathedral is vast, often asymmetric and even heterogeneous in its parts: each of its facades with their individual portal. Walls are not felt, they would not have. Arches, galleries, towers, some sites with arcades, huge Windows, on and on – infinitely complex, delicate open forms. And all this space is inhabited – the Cathedral both inside and outside is inhabited by a mass of sculptures (in the Chartres Cathedral about ten thousand sculptures). They occupy not only the portals and galleries, but they can also be found on the roof, the eaves, under the arches of the chapels, spiral staircases, occur in the gutter, on consoles. In short, the Gothic Cathedral is the world.
He really has absorbed the world of the medieval city.
If even now, in modern Paris, Notre-Dame Cathedral dominates the city, and before it fades the architecture of the Baroque, Empire, classicism, you can imagine how even more impressive it looked then, in Paris, among winding streets and small courtyards on the banks of the Seine.
Then the Cathedral was something more than just a place of Church service. Together with the town hall, it was the center of all public life of the city. If the town hall was the center of business activity, the Council, other than divine services took place theatre performances, read University lectures, sometimes Parliament met and was even minor trade agreements. Many city councils were so great that the entire population of the city could not fill. Near the Cathedral, as a rule, were located the trading rows.
The needs of urban life motivated to convert a closed thick-walled, bonded type Romanesque Cathedral in such a space, open to the outside. But for this it was necessary to change the design itself. And after construction has occurred and the change in architectural style.
Turn to the Gothic style began with architecture, and only then began to spread to sculpture and painting. Architecture has consistently been the Foundation of the medieval synthesis of the arts. If you compare the typical structures of Romanesque and Gothic, it seems that they are opposite. Some representatives of massiveness, others lightness. But if you take the structures of the transition period, it is seen that the Gothic originated from Roman roots.
It all began with a simple cell, with the cell covered with a vault, traveI. They were square, and it’s put a certain limit on expansion of the main nave. The temple is in such a slab could not be large enough inside – he remained narrow and dark. The idea of the architects is to enhance and facilitate a system of arches. Solid rib arches are replaced with floors – the system of bearing arches. All lightness, all the fabulous Gothic buildings has a rational basis: it follows from the timber frame system of construction. Medieval architects with brilliant intuition applied here is the law of the parallelogram of forces. Based on this, the wall in the Cathedral is great, and therefore there is no need to do continuous and deaf. So appear through galleries, arcades, huge Windows. Galleries are used for installation of the statues and Windows for monumental paintings of colored glass. Medieval artists passionately fond of clean, bright, loud paint. This has had an impact in stained glass and miniatures, and in the coloring of sculpture. These councils are not outside or inside does not seem overwhelming. They appear rather as the embodiment of the active life of the medieval city. They are designed for the quantity of people around was full of life. Inside the Cathedral is spacious, the transept nearly merges with the longitudinal space. This eliminates a sharp boundary between clergy and visitors. “Sanctuary” ceases to be something inaccessible and unseen. The tombs are placed directly in the temple, and not in a dark underground crypt, in the Romanesque churches. The Gothic dramatic, but not gloomy and not sad.
What was a medieval city? The bulk of the urban population represented the most rebellious, the most free society. Artisans were no longer someone else’s servants, they were United in the independent unions, shop.
In many cities there were universities.
Cathedrals and the town hall was erected by order of the local authority. Was built and completed they for a long time — decades and even centuries. The visual splendour of Gothic churches, including statues, reliefs, stained glass Windows and the altar painting, all that was conceived as a kind of encyclopedia of medieval knowledge – of course subordinate to theology. And in each Cathedral can be traced its own theme. For example, the Paris — dedicated to our lady, and everything connected with it; Amiens – expressed the idea of messianism: on the facade the figures of the prophets.
But the intensions of these fine theological encyclopedias were, in General, so vague and allegories are so conditional that under their protection they found the place wide variety of subjects and motifs, including very far from the Church’s concept of the universe.
Under the hands of medieval stonecutters dead stone comes to life and blooms with thousands of flowers. It is difficult to find in history a more organic form of synthesis of art and emerging on this basis.
In most Gothic cathedrals sculpture decoration prevailed over the painting, except for the stained-glass Windows: it is again determined by the nature of the architecture, making the walls delicate and therefore unsuitable for frescos. Gothic painting developed in the form of wall paintings, mostly miniatures in manuscripts and paintings in the altars of the flaps. The painting of the altars was more developed in those countries where the Gothic architecture, for one reason or another kept the relative massiveness of the walls and surface. A wonderful altar painting had, for example, the medieval Bohemia.
In most European countries, lying to the North of Italy, the Gothic style dominated for a long time. XV century in the Nordic countries can be considered late Gothic or or protorenessansnogo. There is no big difference, since the Renaissance, with all its absolute innovation, was a natural stage of medieval culture, in which that grew organically.