Alfred Dwight Foster Hamlin.

A history of ornament, ancient and medieval online

. (page 15 of 21)
Online LibraryAlfred Dwight Foster HamlinA history of ornament, ancient and medieval → online text (page 15 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

The Spanish peninsula was the field of successive in-
vasions, conquests and internal struggles through the

Fio. 287. Tareaooka. Fig. 288. Tabraooka (?).

entire Middle Ages, and there was little chance for the
development of any independent national style. The
few great churches erected in the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries show a dominant French influence (Zamorra,
Avila, Tarragona, Salamanca, Barcelona, Compo-
stella) ; and while the composition is vigorous and eflPec-
tive and the ornament well disposed, it presents no strik-
ing novelty of detail (Figs. 287 and 288 illustrate two


Digitized by VjOOQIC


capitals which are thoroughly German in style) . A re-
markable characteristic of this style is its absolute free-
dom from Moorish details or influence, although the
eleventh and twelfth centuries witnessed the culmination


Fio. 289. Norwegian Carving:
Left Side, from Stedye Church;
Right Side, Ukidektified.

Fig. 990. Choir Seat,

of that brilliant art. This exemption was doubtless due
to the hostility between the Christians and Moslems.

Scandinavian Ornament.

The decorative art of the north of Europe, in the
Scandinavian peninsula especially, took on a special
character, the precise origin and relations of which to
Byzantine art on the one hand and to Celtic art on the
other, are still subjects of controversy. As in Celtic
ornament, elaborate and complicated interlace is the
dominant characteristic; and as in the Celtic manu-


Digitized by VjOOQIC


scripts, the interlace
is based largely on
the convolutions of a
^ dragon or serpent,
i Nithhoggr, with the
branches of the great
earth-covering tree
Yggdrasil. The most
characteristic exam-
ples of this art are in
the wood-carvings of
doors and doorways
of ancient churches,
some dating from the
eleventh or even the
tenth century (Fig.
289). As these are
of later date than
many masterpieces of
Irish manuscript or-
nament, some of which
belong to the eighth
and possibly to the
seventh century, it
seems likely that this
Scandinavian art is,
„ ^, -^ ^ in part at least, rooted

Fio. 291. Details of Cakdelabkuic, , ^ '

Milan Cathedral. in Irish art, thoUgh

this doubtless derived its first inspiration from Constan-
tinople and Byzantine church fittings, ivories and Gos-
pels. Fig. 290 shows a Norwegian chair (or rather stall


Digitized by VjOOQIC


from a choir) of perhaps the twelfth century, in which
the character of the earlier art still appears.

Romanesque Metal Work.

It is difficult to assign precise national limits to some
of the phases of metal work of the Romanesque period.

Fio. 992. Detail, Chaxdelier at Hildesheim.

especially in the line of ecclesiastical gold and silver and
silver-gilt copper. Some of this work found in Western
churches was undoubtedly from the Constantinople
workshops — e.g., the famous Pala d'Oro or jeweled
golden altarpiece of St. Mark's, Venice. The Byzan-
tines taught the art to the artisans of Italy, France and
Germany, and Figs. 291-293 illustrate some of the
most famous examples of this work. Fig. 291 shows
two details of the magnificent bronze candlestick in
Milan Cathedral. A very similar candlestick, at least
as to its base, is among the treasures of Reims Cathedral.
Fig. 292 is from a bronze candlestick at Hildesheim.
The fine chalice in Fig. 293 is a part of the treasure of
a church at Bergen (Norway) , and illustrates the use of


Digitized by VjOOQIC


filigree with jewels, which was a characteristic Byzan-
tine form of the goldsmith's art. A very similar chalice
is, or was, in the treasm-y of Reims Cathedral.

Fio. 293. Gold Cup, Beroex.

The architectural styles, thus grouped under the gen-
eral name of Romanesque, gradually passed over into
what are called the Grothic styles. The transition was
not sudden, but the change though gradual, was a real
one: not alone a change of details or of structural prin-
ciples, but of spirit and character. The Grothic styles


Digitized by VjOOQIC


expressed the new order which came in with the final
establishment of settled institutions, religious, political
and social, throughout all Western Christendom.

Books Recommended:

As before, Dehio and Bezold, Hubsch. Also, Bond: In-
troduction to English Church Architecture (London, 1918);
Cathedrals of England and Wales (London, 1912). — Dahl-
EKUP, Holm and Stoek : Tegnkiger of aeldre Nordisk Architek-
tur (Stockholm). — ^Fobster: Denkmaler deutscher Baukunst
(Leipzig, 1856-69). — J. T. Gilbert: Facsimiles of National
Manuscripts of Ireland (Dublin, 1871). — A. Hartel: Archi-
tectural Details and Ornaments of Church Buildings^ etc. (New
York, 1904). — Hasak: Die romanische und die gotische Bau-
kunst (Stuttgart, 1899). — T. Kutschmann: Romanesque
Architecture and Ornament in Germany (Text in German;
New York, 1906). — C. Mollinger: Die deutsch-romanische
Architektur (Leipzig, 1891). — H. Otte: Geschichte der
romanischen Baukunst in Deutschland (Leipzig, 1874). — ^T.
Hickman: An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles^ etc. (Lon-
don, 1817). — E. Sharpe: Churches of the Nene Valley; Orna-
ments of the Transitional Period; The Seven Periods of Eng-
lish Architecture (London, various dates). — E. Sullivan:
The Book of Kells (New York, 1914).— W. R. Tymms: The
History^ Theory and Practice of Illuminating (London, 1861).

For Spanish Romanesque, consult the fine work of Lamperez
Y RoMEA, Historia de la arquitectura cristiana espa/riola^ etc.,
also the incomplete series entitled Monument os Arquitectonicos
de Espa4Ui9 to be found in a few of the larger libraries.


Digitized by VjOOQIC


GOTHIC ornament: structueal

Gothic architecture was the result of the development
which took place in the effort to solve the problem of
constructing a vaulted cruciform church of stone, with
a clearstory to light the central aisle or nave. All the
special forms and details of this architecture are more
or less directly incidental to this development: vault-
ribbing, buttresses and pinnacles, clustered shafts,
pointed arches, moldings and tracery, were all evolved
in this process of working out the above problem. The
greater part of the ornament of the medieval churches,
chapels and even secular buildings, consisted of the
adornment of these structural features. Whatever dec -
oration was not structural, either in function or origm,
was symbolic or pictorial. The sculpture and the s tained
-glass of the great cathedrals constituted aa.iUustmtfi4_
fiible which even the most illiterate could in a, measure

This style-development took place first of all in
France. Other countries borrowed from France both
the general composition and the details of their Gothic
architecture. England alone among them retained a
large measure of independence, developing her own
Grothic style freely along national lines from germs


Digitized by VjOOQIC


brought over from France, grafting upon the foreign
plant their own original additions. Germany copied
French models much more closely in some cases, while
manifesting in others an originality verging on caprice.
Spain and Portugal borrowed from all three, though
mostly from France; Belgium was hardly more than a
province of France in her architecture; while the Italians
developed no truly Gothic style, but grafted Gothic
decorative details, much altered, on structures in which
the Gothic principles, both of construction and compo-
sition, were wholly ignored.


It is convenient to divide the history of the style in
all the above countries except Italy into three periods —
those of development, culmination and decline, or Early,

Fio. 294. Gothic Capitals: a. Early French, frobi the Saintb

Chapelle; 6, 14th Cekturt Cap from Transept of Notre Dame;

c, Flambotakt, from North Spire of Chartres.

Developed, and Florid. These correspond to the so-
called Early French, Rayonnant and Flamboyant
phases of Gothic architecture in France, and the Lancet,
Decorated and Perpendicular in England; these names
being derived from the form and tracery of the windows.


Digitized by VjOOQIC


In the English styles these phases belong roughly to the
thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, respeet-
tively : in France they appear from twenty to fifty years
earlier: in Germany somewhat later. The ornament of
the Early Period (in France 1160 to 1240 or 1250) is
the simplest and most vigorous, the imitation of natural
forms least literal. In the Developed Period design
and execution are finer, ornament more profuse and
more naturalistic, and window tracery (and in England
vault-ribbing also) became more important elements in
the decorative scheme. In the Florid Period the styles
diverge considerably in the different countries, but in all,
the ornament is more complex and often overloaded, and
also often more thin, wiry and dry, technical cleverness

and minute detail taking the
place of restraint and vigor
of artistic design. The orna-
ment oscillates between the
extremes of realism and con-
ventionalism. This sequence
is illustrated in the three
capitals of Fig. 294.

Structural Ornament.

Every important struc -
turd f^jllfp was either m?^^
o rnamental in its elf, like th e
clustered shafts, capitals, tri -
f6 num-arca 3eSju^3yindow-tra-
ceries, roo f-balust rades Ig^^T
_ _^ _. ^ water-spouts; or adorn ed

Fio. 295. Decoiativb Gable -,p^^__ ^ -—r^^T^ j^T*^

ovEi A Window, Cologne. wURT^rved adjunctsjligjai>

284 *"^ '^'

Digitized by VjOOQIC


tails, like the crockets, fimals,
gablets and tabemacies of pin-
nacle(»^«id buttresses, or the rSE-
ageandlflbwers on enriched mold-
ing^-f-SerPlateXVII)- "Thlhe
Developedr and Florid Perfods,
b ythe operation o f a never-fail-
ing law of decoratrv^e^eYoluJtion,
certain forms and features orig-
inally structural came To te^sfid
as pure ornament.* Thus gables^
originally used only at the ends -
of gabted^ roofs, came to be used . ,. . ; ; ^ •

build the fillings, became finally Fio. 296. Clustered

a mere patterning in relief on ^^^" ^'''•

the vault-surface; in Germany the spire, at first a steep
roof over a bell tower, became a gigantic ornament of
open tracery and not a roof at pW

Piers, Shafts and Columns.

Except in some of the earlier French and later Bel-
gian and Dutch churches, all the piers were clustered,

1 See pages 134, 135, and 137 note for other examples of this law of devel-
opment, and comments upon it.


Digitized by VjOOQIC


slender shafts being grouped around a central core,
sometimes joined to it, sometimes quite separate.
These shafts were usually circular, but sometimes pear-
shaped, springing from bases at a common level, except
in the later examples and carrying elaborate foliated
capitals (Fig. 296). Sometimes, in England espe-

Fio. 297. Romanesque and Gothic Capitau»; a, fbom Bayeux Cathedeal,
h, from St. Mastin des Champs, Paris.

cially, the shafts are belted at intervals with molded
bands. Vaulting shafts are often sprung from carved
corbels high up, instead of bases on the ground, or set
on the caps of the main piers. Gothic shafts are never
carved, but are sometimes painted.

Capitals display a a fi^reat variety of designs, usually
employing foliage as ttteir chief adornment. The earlier
French capitals generally recall the Corinthian type by
their bell-shaped core, square abacus with the corners
cut off, and volute-like corner crockets, but the abacus is
always massive in proportion to the cap and shaft, and
the development of the type from the Romanesque is


Digitized by VjOOQIC


evident (Fig. 297). Later capitals have the foliage
more complex and more naturalistic in detail (Fig. 294
b) ; the abacus is octagonal or round; in England the
plain molded bell-capital without foliage occurs fre-
quently, and the Corinthian type is lost in the convex
wreaths or bunches of foliage in the foliated caps. In
the Florid Period capitals are often omitted, and when

Fig. 298. Gothic Bases: Eably Type, from
Halberstadt; Late Type, from Rouek.

used are often poor in design ; they vary between extreme
naturalism and capricious convention (Figure 294c).

Bases show a very interesting progressive develop-
ment. The simple Attic type of the Romanesque styles
survives for a while but first loses its corner spurs, then
changes gradually, the plinth taking on a constantly in-
creasing importance until it becomes a high pedestal,
with the moldings above it much^educed and simplified.
The lower torus also becomes higher and larger, assum-
ing the later phases an ogee or pear-like profile.
The corners of the plinth were cut off in many Roman-
esque bases; in the Gothic the plinth {i.e., each member
of a complex base) is almost always frankly an octagon


Digitized by VjOOQIC


or semi-octagon in plan (Fig. 298) . In the later period
of the style it is often in two stages, constituting a
pedestal rather than a simple base.


The simple roll molding of the Romanesque styles is
replaced by increasingly complex profiles, in which pear-
shaped sections frequently alternate with deep hollows,
producing effective contrasts of multiplied narrow lines
of light and shadow. In the first two periods the pro-

Fio. ^9. French Piee-Abch Moldings of Thbee Periods.

files rfre sharp and vigorous, and in the pier-arches the
grouping of rounds and hollows conforms more or less
closely to the stepped profile of the arch-construction.
In the Florid Period the steppings of the arch-section
generally disappear in a generally splayed effect. The
profiles in this period are less vigorous than in the pre-
ceding, the hollows being broad and shallow, the convex
moldings smaller, and Gne fillets are multiplied, giving
at times a thin and wiry appearance to the grouped pro-
files (Fig. 299).

Enriched moldings are more frequent in English than
in French work, though they occur in all the periods in
France (especially in late work), England, Germany


Digitized by VjOOQIC


and Spain. Convex moldings are rarely enriched, but
the hollows between them are adorned with leaves,
crockets, ball-flowers, and |
in early English work with i
pyramid-flowers or "dog-
tooth" ornaments. In place
of a cornice or corbel-table,
the wall (especially in i
France) was often crowned Fw. 3oo. Cobxice-Moldino.

. , . - Notre Dame, Paris.

With a high, deep cavetto

filled with standing leaves (Fig. 300). In the Florid
Period, the French sometimes filled the broad hollows
between the finer members of a molding-group with ex-
quisitely carved naturalistic vines. This treatment oc-
curs in English examples {e.g. the portals of Southwell
Chapter House) in the Decorated Period. In the fol-
lowing (Perpendicular) Period in England the hollows

were more often enriched with
widelj^ spaced square rosettes.
In both France and Ger-
many moldings of different
profiles were made to cross and
^intersect in work of the latest
phase of the Gothic, the intri-
cate cutting of their intersec-
tions giving occasion for that
Fio. 301. Carved Vault display of technical clevemcss
Boss: French. which characterizes that per iod.


Gothic vaulting is based upon the principle of a
framework of ribs supporting the fillings of masonry of


Digitized by VjOOQIC


small stones. The rib framework is simple in the early
work of all countries, the only ornament being the mold-
ings of the ribs and sometimes a carved keystone or boss
at their intersections (Figm-e 801). In France this
simplicity persists nearly to the end (Fig. 802), In

Fio. 309. Vaultino, Apsidal Chapel, Bbauvais.

England the ribs were multiplied by the addition of tier-
cerons (Figure 808) and of subordinate connecting ribs
or liemes, and combined into highly ornamental pat-
terns ("star" and "net" vaults), with carved bosses at
each intersection. This patterning developed finally
into "fan vaulting," in which the ribs were purely decora-
tive moldings cut in the stones of the inverted semi-
conoids of the vaulting (Figure 804, b; a sump-
tuously ornate form of stone ceiling, but without that


Digitized by VjOOQIC

^XET£R Cathedral .

Lincoln Cathedral; Half of Tower Vault

Digitized by VjOOQIC

Fig. 304A. — Interior, Winchester Cathedral: Lierne Vaulting

Fia. 304 B. — Fan Vault, Henry VII's Chapel, Westminster

Digitized by VjOOQIC


clear expression of structure which marked the earlier

In Germany and Spain the vault-ribs were, as 'early
as the latter part of the Developed Period, built to fit
predetermined conventional patterns, in which the lines
were not always, as they always were in England, true
plane curves. The builders in these two countries de-
lighted in tourS'de- force, displays of cleverness in creat-
ing and solving difficult problems of vault-rib construc-
tion; but the results are neither so rich nor so pleasing
as in England.

Window Tracery.

This was one of the most decorative and characteris-
tic features of Gothic architecture. Its development
may be followed from the Romanesque coupling of win-
dows under a discharging arch through successive stages

in which the separating
pier became a column or
a slender chamfered or
molded pier of cut stone,
while the spandrel above
was perforated with a cir-
cle; then treated like a
thick plate of stone with
decoratively cusped or
foiled openings cut

Fio. 305 a. Plate Tracery, Ettok through it (plate tracevy
Church. ^.^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^

window was further divided into three, four, or more
lights by slender molded or shafted mullions, and


Digitized by VjOOQIC


the space between their pointed-arched heads and the
main window-arch filled with circles or geometric pat-
terns of stone work, the interest of the design being now
transferred from the shapes of the openings to the shapes
of the stone work {bar tracery. Fig. 805 &). Towards
the end of the middle Period the circular arcs and circles
of this type of tracery (which was carried to the highest
perfection in the great East and West windows of Eng-

Fio. 305 b, Bas Tbacery, Meopham Church; c, Perpendiculae
Tracert, Northfleet.

land and the great wheel-windows of France) reverse
cmres were introduced, giving a swaying movement to
the lines. In France this is continued through the next
period, giving it the name of Flamboyant from the
flame-like forms of the very intricate tracery patterns
used both in arched and circular windows. In England
on the contrary there supervened, from about 1875, a
rapid change, leading to the Perpendicular style of
tracery; huge windows being filled with a very mechan-
ical, though structurally excellent, system of vertical
bars, sometimes crossed by transoms on small flattened


Digitized by VjOOQIC


arches (Fig. 805 c). In Germany there was less uni-
formity, but a general resemblance to the French flam-
boyant forms. These various developments are illus-
trated in Fig. 805 and Plate XXI.

Noticeable in all developed Gothic tracery is the intro-
duction of cusps, separating or enclosing foils, also the
branching of the moldings, so arranged that the main
mullions and circles have a section composed of the ag-
gregate of all the subordinate arch — or muUion — ^mold-

Fio. 306. Varieties op Cusps.

ings which came together in them. The several com-
ponent groups of moldings are called orders. Cusps
may consist of only the inmost molding widened into a
point, or of a molding or complete order branching off
so as to form a small triangular opening (Fig. 806).
Sometimes one of the outer moldings of the arch of a
door or window was pointed with cusps terminating in
small finials (Plate XVII, 2, shows this treatment ap-
plied to a flying buttress-arch in Germany) .

Wall and Oable Tracery.

During the course of the Developed Period the deco-
rative richness of the window-tracery led to the repeti-
tion of like forms on certain wall-surfaces, upon which
they formed ornamental panels framed in the lines of the


Digitized by VjOOQIC


tracery in relief; a prac-
tice especially common in
English Perpendicular
and German Florid
Gothic work, but found
in all countries (see Plate
XVII). In France it
also became an increas-
ingly frequent practice to
Fio. 307. Rayonkakt Gothic ©rcct ovcr doorways and
Balustbade. windows false gables— i.e.

gables having no roof behind them but employed as or-
naments — jQlled with openwork tracery similar in char-
acter to that in the arched heads of the windows. Such
gables were especially elegant in design in the Flam-
boyant churches of France (Figure 859).


These were at first composed of small columns carry-
ing round or pointed arches under the capstone or rail.
Later the geometric forms of open tracery were applied,

Fio. 308. Flambotant Frbkch Balustrade; Chateau of JoflBLnr.


Digitized by VjOOQIC


circles, triangles and quadrilaterals with closed or open
cusps predominating. Such balustrades are used at the
lower edges of roofs as well as for balconies, tower-para-
pets and (rarely) stairways (Fig. 807, Plate XVII,
14, 17) • They became as complex as other features in
the Florid Period (Fig. 808) especially in G^ermany,
where they often formed veritable geometric puzzles*

Pinnacles, Crockets and Finials.

These are as characteristic of the Gothic styles as is
the tracery. The buttresses — ^both the clearstory wall-
buttresses and the outer buttresses external to the side-
aisles — were commonly terminated by a tall slender
pyramid, square or octagonal in plan, rising from gab-
lets crowning two or four faces of the buttress-top, or
from minor pinnacles at the corners (Plate XVII, 1, 2,
5). These pinnacles were adorned along the hips or
edges with crockets (Plate XVII, 4) — outward-curl-
ing leaf-like or flame-like protuberances richly carved;
— and terminated in a finial, composed usually of a cen-
tral stem ending in a ball or bud and branching out be-
low this into four or more crockets, forming a remark-
ably eflPective terminal flower or ornament (Plate
XVII, 6, 11).

Crockets (Fig. 295) are also used to fret the salient
edges of the saddleback copings of gables; along the
hips of spires; as ornaments to the outer drip-moldings
of arches, especially in the Florid Period; and (rarely)
between the clustered shafts in doorways and triforiums.
Finials, of like character with those on pinnacles, are the
usual termination of the summits of gables, and of ogee-


Digitized by VjOOQIC


arches in late Gothic design (Plate XVIII, 6). In
early work the crockets, alike those of the finials and of
gable-edges or spire-angles, invariably curl outwards.

a b

Fio. 309. Crockets: a, Eably French; b. Flamboyant.

like the curled-up volutes of fern in the Spring (Fig.
809 a). Later they took on more elaborate foliage-
forms with complex, wavy outlines, often in the last
period of the style losing all decision and character in
their mass and detail (Fig. 309 h) .

Crestings of

stone, of cast-lead,
of terra-cotta were
employed to deco-
rate the ridges of
most of the roofs, on
which the covering

~ Fig. 310. Gothic Cresting. waS USUally of lead,

copper or slate. They were customarily of rather sim-
ple design, ending against finials of metal of a more
elaborate sort (Fig. 810).

Not strictly structural in themselves, these were em-


Digitized by VjOOQIC















Digitized by VjOOQIC


goyles (Plate XVII, 1). Remarkable skill was dis-
played in the composition and anatomy of these gro-
tesque monsters. They are among the most striking
examples of the decorative-sjrmbolic treatment of purely
utilitarian members (Figure 812).

Books Recommended:

As before, Bond, Dehio and Bezold, Haetel, Viollet-
LB-Duc. Also, G. L. Adams: Recueil de sculptures gothiques

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryAlfred Dwight Foster HamlinA history of ornament, ancient and medieval → online text (page 15 of 21)