Medieval Styles

Medieval Styles developed during the Middle Ages and included major art movements and periods but also national and regional art and artists crafts.

Medieval detail
Medieval detail

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Pre-Romanesque

Pre-Romanesque is a period in European art going from the emergence of the Merovingian kingdom or from the Carolingian Renaissence to the begin early 11th-century Romanesque period.


The term is often used in English only to talk about architecture and monumental sculpture. The main theme during this period was the introduction and absorption of classical Mediterranean sensibility with Germanic one, that was embracing innovative new forms. Medieval art was preceded by the Migration Period art of the “Barbarian” peoples: Hiberno-Saxon in the British Isles and Merovigian on the Continent.

The Palatine Chapel in Aachen (Germany)
The Palatine Chapel in Aachen (Germany)

Image source: https://brewminate.com/charlemagnes-works-in-western-europe/

Romanesque

Romanesque architects worked on a huge variety of different projects, the most common were: village churches, abbey churches, cathedrals and castles. The most important were monumental abbey churches and many of them are still in use. Typical features of Romanesque architecture are:

  • Semi-circular arches: Most arches were semi-circular and a few buildings have pointed arches. Narrow windows or doors might be featured with a stone lintel. Larger openings were always arched in this style;
  • Thick walls: These massive supporting walls had few openings and were used to contain the need for buttresses;
  • Arcades: These were a particularly used characteristic. An arcade was a row of arches, sustained by either columns or piers. Capitals could often be the ones of Corinthian style;
  • Roofs: Were made from wood or stones with vaults made of stone or bricks;
  • Towers: Were a regular feature of Romanesque churches and could be of several forms: square, circular and octagonal towers;
Mont Saint Michel, France
Mont Saint Michel, France

Image source: http://www.travelchannel.com/destinations/france/normandy/daily-escape/mont-saint-michel

The Birth of Gothic

Gothic architecture took the name of opus francigenum, which literally meant French work. The term Gothic was negative at the beginning, suggesting something barbaric.

Gothic architecture is a style that spread all over Europe in the Middle Ages. It was born from Romanesque architecture, it was widely used, especially for cathedrals and churches, until the 16th century.

It had as a  main feature the use of rib vault and flying buttress, which allowed the counterbalancing of the roof with buttresses put outside the building, giving a sense of greater height and more space for windows.

Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_architecture

Info source: http://www.medieval-life-and-times.info/medieval-art/medieval-architecture.htm

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