Comparative Analysis Of Romanesque And Gothic Periods

Romanesque and the Gothic period of artworks had a few differences and commonalities within each other. Gothic period art appears to be far more complex than Romanesque but is simplifying original ideas essentially. Both push and pull from each other through these following artworks.

Nave, Chartres Cathedral was apart of the Gothic period and very economically important building which served as a marketplace for people. It housed many relics, specifically the tunic worn by the Virgin Mary. The importance of these relics made this cathedral a popular destination. It has a huge rose window as well as painted stained glass and lancets. It consisted of designs and large figures who are heroes in the Bible, set up as allegories. It had three aisles cutting its transept shorter. The cathedral had extremely high walls and the Nave was held together by double flying buttresses. Saint Sernin was apart of the Romanesque period and was a designation for many travelers to stop and give tribute to the church as well as God. It housed relics of Saints which was very sought after by large crowds of pilgrims. It had aisles on 4 sides which formed a continuous circuit around the nave and transept allows for more traffic of people to pass through. It had radiating chapels for more foot room to view relics. A few differences between Chartres and Saint Sernin are their outlooks on the importance of art or ideas of art within the church. Saint Sernin has extremely plane and geometrical decorations while Chartres has actual sculptures with ornaments. Chartres has big windows of stained glass while Saint Sernin has thick walls for window space to produce an opened church.

Cathedral of Pisa was apart of the Romanesque period. Its architecture consisted of rounded arches, thick walls, and tiny windows. It had long rows of columns which are connected by arches, double aisles, and a nave. It has 5 naves which compose its overall structure along with transept to three basilicas. Its external appearance is multicolored with mosaic paintings. Westminster Abbey was apart of the Gothic period and originally started as a small monastery. It consists of large stained glass windows that amplified its tall structure. It has an undercroft beneath it which is used for burials and worship by those who pass through. Its architectural designs specifically consist of flying buttresses, ribbed vaulting, and pointed arches. The transept of the Abbey is designed at a right angle from its nave, making cross-shaped layout within the church. Pisa and Westminster both have double aisles making it easy for travelers to pass through and do as they wish. The exterior differences between the two would be their arches. Pisa consists of pointed arches while Westminster has round arches. Westminster is quite a bit taller than Pisa due to the ideas of projecting worshiping to God as close to the sky as possible.

The pulpit is the very first sculpted reliefs ever produced. The pulpit is located in the Pisa baptistery on the south side. It hexagon shaped and is displayed on seven columns. At the base of three of the seven columns lies sculpted lions looking inward. These lions are thought to represent pagan forces controlled by Christianity. It all in all has ties to the ideas of Christianity. Its interesting forms of structure and narrative holds its uniqueness. The Magi Asleep was located at the Church of Saint Lazare, but the original capitals were removed and are displayed in the Musee Rolin by the Cathedral. Its depicted scenes are promoting an admiration to Jesus. One of the three figures is interrupted in sleep by an angel, the angel is showing him the star of Bethlehem. Both pieces are biblical narratives as well as relief sculptures. However, Pulpit was the first of this kind.

Book of Homilies was illustrated by Nun Guda. She is a nun who is credited as being the first woman to sign a self-portrait. Matthew Paris’s Self-Portrait Kneeling Before the Virgin and Child shows the heart and tenderness between a mother and her child. The artist paints himself at the very bottom of the page showing the relation to his devotion for God. His demeanor is placed alike to the child's showing their fragile acceptance to the helping hand of their caregivers. Both artworks include a self-portrait of each artist, but only one is signed by the artist. Nun Guda signed her self portrait without caring if there would be any following consequences. In Romanesque art, it is important to stay anonymous within your artwork just as Matthew Paris hid well.

Those who work is produced by John of Worcester. It represents the nightmares of the King, where his people were demanding tax relief. In the first night, angry farmers present a list of grievances to the King. The second night displays all of the King's armed knights. Lastly, the third night shows the monks, abbots, and bishops. The idea of this illustration was to moralize the people and their concerns. Moralizations from the Apocalypse is a scripture consisting of allegorical illustrations. Both are illustrations, but Moralizations from the apocalypse has cohesive text and illustrations within its scripture.

The Romanesque and Gothic period both held strong religious beliefs which shown throughout their artworks. Romanesque was centered around the idea of God being the source of livelihood while Gothic transformed the beliefs into focusing on the individual. These two concepts could easily go hand in hand but varied throughout the different architecture, sculptures, and paintings. Gothic pulled from Romanesque ideologies but soon altered those beliefs, but both are visually related to each other.

Works Cited

  • Bony, Jean. French Gothic Architecture of the 12th and 13th Centuries. University of California Press, 1983.
  • Eric Fernie, 'The Use of Varied Nave Supports in Romanesque and Early Gothic Churches,' Gesta 23, no. 2 (1984): 107-117.
  • Harvey, John H. “The Origins of Gothic Architecture: Some Further Thoughts.” The Antiquaries Journal, vol. 48, no. 1, 1968, pp. 87–99., doi:10.1017/S0003581500034417.
  • Minne-Seve, Viviane. “Romanesque and Gothic France: Architecture and Sculpture.” Choice Reviews Online, vol. 38, no. 08, 2001, doi:10.5860/choice.38-4291.
  • Radding, Charles M. “Medieval Architecture, Medieval Learning.” Google Books, 1992,
  • Seznec, J. “Review. Religious Art in France. The Twelfth Century. Male, Emile.” French Studies, vol. 33, no. 3, 1979, pp. 319–320., doi:10.1093/fs/33.3.319.
  • Strickland, Carol. The Annotated Arch a Crash Course in the History of Architecture. Andrews and McMeel, 2001.
  • Strickland, Carol. The Annotated Mona Lisa: Andrews McMeel, 2018.
16 December 2021
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