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To the Romans, therefore, is due the introduction of an arcuated construction
with a well developed intemal, and a partially developed external decoration. The



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etrly ObristI AQs adopted their forms of constmcdon and deooratloii from the Romans.
They were alw lnd«jblfld to them for the plaua of the buildings, which became the
types of the Chrifitian sacred odifloea daring the middle ages. Tlie Basilica (q. v.)«
or Komou coart-house and marlcct-placCf was found to oe admirably adapted for
early Christian worship, and the circular temples were the prototypes of the Chris-
tian Baptisteries (q. v.) which usunlly accompanied tlic basilicas. lu erecting their
buildings, the Ohnstians not only adopted the plam* and mode of construction, but
used the actual materials of the bufldiugs of the Romans, many of which had
beeu destroyed by the barbarians. Wliere such materials were abundant— as in
Rome and Central Italv— the early Christian architecture very closely resembled
til at of the Roman bufldlugs wiiich had preceded it. But in more remote districts
the builders, finding no ready-made materials at hand, had to design and prepare
new ones. Tn doing so they rollowed as closely as they could the Roman originals,
but their buildings partook more of the constructional than the decorative elements
of Roman arcliitectnre. The Roman ornament thus dropped out of use; and when,
iu process of time, decoration was desired, each new iwople followed its own ideas.
The traditional Roman decoration thus became to a great extent lost, and new styles
introduced. These new styles each retained some of the original Roman forms
and modes of construction ; and each style depended for Its peculiar cliaracter on
the particular Roman forms it retained and developed. Thus Constantine, and the
architects of tlie Bast, seized upon the dome as the distinguishing feature of their
style, and the architects of Lombardv adopted the plain tunnel-vault. The former
style is called Bvzautlne (q. v.), and has been the type of all Basteni medieval
architecture; and the latter Romanesque (q. v.), and has been the origin of all the
western urchitecture of medieval Europe.

HCstory.— From Lombardy— iu those ages part of the German Empire— the Ro-
manesque style readily passed Into Germany and Switzerland, and was also roost
naturally adopted in the South of France, where examples of Roman architecture
al>ouuded. This architecture was carried oat with variotw modifications in these
difl'erent countries, all of which may have contributed to the general progress of the
art; but as might be expected, it is to the banks of the Rhine, where the successors
of Charlemagne chiefly dwelt, that we must look for the first step in the develop-
ment of Gothic architecture. The following short sketch of the development of
vaullingwill shew how this occurred.

The Roman basilicas, and. like them, the early Christian Churches, were divided
into a central nave with two aide-aisles, the former separated from the latter by a
row of columns on each side. These columns carriea arches on which rested the
side walls of the nave, which were carried sufflcienily high to clear the roofs of the
side-aisles, and admit windows to light the central nave. The row of windows after-
wards became the Gothic Clerestory (q. v.). The a|»e at the end of the nave was semi-
circular on plan, and was usually roofed with a vault In the form of a semi-dome. This
feature was also afterwards more tnlly developed in tiie chapels of Gothic churches.
Tlie nave and side-aisles were originally roofed with wood, but, owiuj; to their fre-
quent destruction by fire, it became necessary to cover the churches with a more en-
during kind of construction. Vaulting was then introduced, the Roman forms, of
which many examples existed, being at first closely followed. To trace the progress .
of vaulting from the simple tunnel-vault of the Romans to the fully developed and
magnificent groins of Gothic cathedrals, is a most Interesting inquiry ; and, indeed,
includes the nistory of the development of Gothic architecture. There Is one con-
sideration which will helD to explain how the Roman arches were abandoned and
new forms sought out To the Roman emperors who built the splendid vaults of
the baths, and who had a subdued world at command, materials and labor were a
small consideration. They could, therefore, afford to build in a new style which re-
quired perfect materials and workmanship. But medieval princes and bishops conld
obtain neltber, except with great cost and trouble; to economise these, therefore,
great skill and attention were required. It was necessary to study to avoid those
large and expensive materials of^ which the Romans were so lavish, and to adopt
the simplest and easiest forms of construction.

The first vaults tried were simple semicircular tunnel- vaults. It was found that
these, besides being very gloomy, required very massive walls to resist their thrust.
An attempt was then made to relieve this thrust by transwrBe archer thrown acrose



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—At InteiralB— under the tannel-Tanlt, to act as Btrend^benliiflr arches. BnttreMcs
with a slight projection were applied outside to support these, and a beam of wood
was sometimes lutrodaced at the wall-bead from batiress to buttress to assist in op-
pcwiufT the thrust of the vault.

This was the first attempt to throw the we! zht of the vault on single points. In
the side-aisles, where the spau was small, the Roman intersecting vaults were used;
nnd as the roofs with tuuuel-vHultidg were found very gloomy and ill-lighted, it was
desirable that similar intersecting vaults should be used to cover the main roof, in
order to admit windows raifeed to light the vauiUug. But how was this to be ronn-
aged with the small materials at command? If the transverse arciies ore semicircu-
lar, and the side-arches the same— the vuult being form^ by two intersecting cylin-
ders— tiien the intersecting groins must be elliptical. This was a difficult form of
construction ; the niedievaT builders found it easier to couslrixct semicircular groin
arches with radius, and to fill in the tilangular spaces with slightly domed vaults.
Here, then, we have the origin of the groin-rib, the development of which played so
important a part in Qothic vaulting. When the space to be covered was square,
this form of vault was found to answer, and ttsually included two bays of the side-
aisles. But this arrangement looked awkward externally, tlra windows of the clere-
stonr not groupmg well with those of the side aisles. A trausverse arch was then in-
troduced, carrviiig up the design from the nave piers to the vauking. This form of
vault is called bexapirtite. All the above forms of vaulting were fully developed in
the round arched styles of the Rhine.

Ju France, these forms were also tried; bntit was found thnt the semicircle Is
not a good form of arch unless loaded on the haunches, many of the churches which
were vaulted in this manner during the 11th c having to be bttttres.«ed or rebuMt in
the ISth and 18th centuries. In the south of France (where the Byzantine influence
bad been strunffly felt, throngli the Mediterranean commerce), the pointed tunnel-
vault had been long in use, and had superseded the femieirculur tunnel-vault prob-
ably as early as the 9th or 10th century. This form of arch was thus probably sncr-
gested to the architects of the north of France, who at orce saw how well it would
overcome the difficulty of the yielding of the haunches in the semicircular arch.
Tbey were thus led to the adoption ot the pointed form for their trnnsverse arches
Of a Blmetural txpedient, and still retained tlie scmictrcular form In the groins. 1'he
next question \^iich engoged attention, and the sohition of which led to the further
use of the pointed arch, was the vaulting of oblonff spaces. This had been tried
with semicbxular arches, but it was found that in this way the vault would require
to be very much domed— the diameter of the arches being so much snialler— whereas
by using pointed arches, of different radii, for tbe transverse and side arches all
might be Kept to about the same height. By the introduction of this new form of
arch the vaulting was strengtliened, and the thrn^ Drought to bear steadily on sin-
gle points. We have thus traced the histot^ of vaulting from the time of the Ro-
ihans to thf 12th c. when the principles of Qpthic pointed vaulting were fully de-
veloped; and we nave dwelt particiflarly on this subject, because it includes the
principles which regulated the whole of the Gothic style. Gothic was not the in-
vention of an individual, but a necessary growtli — a gradual development from struc-
tural requirement This is clearly the case with regaia to the vaulting, us we have
traced it above, and the same might be proved regai-diug every member of the style.
Thus it might be shewn how the ribs became gruduallv more decided, expressing
the part they bore in the support of the roof: how the JNave Piers (q. v.) were grad-
ually subdivided into parts, each shaft beariuK on a separate cap a separate portion
o&the vaulting v how the buttresses were developed as they were required to resist
the thrust of the groins concentrated on points ; and how the flying bnttresses were
forccfl upon the Gothic architects much against their will, as a mc^o of supporting
the arches of the roof.

The history of the latter is very curious. The thrust of the tunnel-vanit was
sometimes resisted by half-tunnel-vanlts over the side aisles. These, therefore, re-
qnired to be high, and a gallery was usually introduced. In the Narthex at Vesehiy
we have this gallery with the vaulting used as n counterpoise to that of the nave.
This is a fine example of vaulting in the transition slate, the vaulting of the gallery
resists the main vault, and is at tlie same time groined. This leaves rather a weak
point opposite the transverse arches, and to streugtiien these, flying buttresses are



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iiUrodaced, which timidly shew tbemaelveg above the roof. The galleries wore, in
later examples, diapeused with to admit of larger clerestory windows, and the flying
buttresses were left standing free. The architects finding them indispensable, then
turned their attention to render them ornamental. Piniutclea may also be shewn to
owe their origin to their use ; thoy acted as wciglitsto steady the buttresses andjtiers.
We shall, nnder their separate heads^ point out how each element of Gothic archi-
tecture was iu the strictest sense constructional, the decoration being In harmony
with its actual use, or as I'ngiu has said, *^ decorated construction, not conatnict^
decoration."

The full deyelopment of Gothic vaulting, which was the forerunner of the whole
style, was first carried out In the royal domain in Prance about the middle of the
12th century. The Normons had settled in the north of France more than a cen-
tury before this, and had applied their talents and the fruit of their conquests to
tlie building of splendid temples in honor of their victories. In doing so, they fol-
o wed out the round-arched style, and brought it forward by a great stride towards
true Gothic. See Nohman Auchitbctuius.

South of the royal domain, in Burgundy, there had existed for centuries great
establishments of monies, famous for their architecture. The Abbey of Cluny was
their central seat, whence they sent out colonies, and bidlt abbeys after the model
of the parent one. The style in which they worked was also au advanced Roman-
esque, but different from that of the Normans.

JBetween these two provinces lay the royal domain. Owing to the weak state of
the kingdom, architecture had liitherto made little progress iu the Isle of France.
About the b^innin^ of the 12th c. the monarchy revived, and for the next two cen-
turies was governedby wtae and powerful monarcha, who succeeded In re-estab-
lishlnc the royal supremacy. A new impulse was thus given to the literature and
arts of the country, by which architecture profited largely. From the state of ruin
into which the kingdom had fallen, there were almost no churches existing worthy
of the new state of things. New and great designs were formed : hitherto, almost
all the important churches of France were abbey churches ; now, under tne royal
patronage, cathedrals were to be built. The bishops, envious of the power of the
monks, Tent their powerful aid, and the whole of tne laity joined hearilly In tho
work. With such a univei-sal Imimlse, no wonder that architecture took a great
stride, and uew forms were introduced. It is to this period and people that we owe
the development of the true or pointed Gothic style.

We have already seen at Veselay how nearly the Bnrgundian monks had ap-
proached to Gothic. To complete the development, it only required the side-wafls
and vaulting of the nave to be raised, so us to admit of windows over the roofs of
the side-galleries ; and tlie flying buttresses to be raised with tliem, so as to receive
the thrust of the vault— the hitter being constructed with pointed groin ribs, and the
side and transverse arches carried to the height of the groins. The laic architects of
tlie royal domain soon accomplished this step, and the uew style sprung up au(l
processed with the most astonishing rapidity.

The earliest example we have of lue luUy developed Gothic style Is the Cathedral
of St Denis, In which are deposited the remains or the kings of France. It was
founded by the Abbe Sugcr In 1144. The Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris .-^oou
followed, and almost contemporary with it arose the magnificent cathedrals of
Chartres, Rheims, Amiens, Beauvais, Bourges, and a host of others.

Another cause which tended much to hasten the progress of the style, was the
Invention about the same time of painted glass. The Romanesque architects had
been in the habit of decorating their chnrches with frescoes and oiner pointings; but
this uew mode of Introducing the most brilliant colors into their designs wasSit
once seized upon by the northern architects. The small circular-arched windows,
which were still In many instances retained long after the pointed-arch had become
usual in the vaulting, no longer suflicod to light the churches when filled with stained
glass. They were therefore enlarged, two or even three were thrown into one, di-
vided only by mullions ; this compound window was again increased until the com-
partment of the clerestory became almost wholly absorbed. The architects were
Wien forced to conform tho arches of their windows to the pointed outline of the
side-arches of the vault insf. This desire for more and more space for stained glass
was the origin of the window-tracery, which forms so beautiful a feature of the



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style. It is the last attenoftted reiiiaina of the wall 8|)ace of the clerestory, wblcli
was at last eutirely absorbed.

Notre Dame Is a good iUostration of the progress of French Oothic. The cleres-
tory windows are small ; and, In order to give more light, the vault of the gallery
next the window is kept very high. This was the original denign ; but daring the
coustmction of the cathedral, the importance ot stained glass had lieconie so greitt,
that the design was altered to give larger windows for its display, as shevm on the
right-band portion of the elevation. These windows also shew the simple enrly
forms of tracery ; that in the aisle windows l>cing later and more advanced. Tonr-
uay Cathedral Is agood rpecimeu of the mode in which the whole space of the side-
walls vras made available fur window tracery snd Mained gitiss.

The farther history of Oothtc architecture in France in simply the following oat,
to their farthest limits, of the principles above indicated, on which the cnrly urcbi-
tects had onconsdoosly been working when they originated the stvle. So long tts
the Oothic architects worked on these principles, they advanced and improved tlieir
architectare. When, however, the style had become folly developed and matured
(aboat 1800 ▲.!>.), the spirit of progress died. No new features were developed.
The architects seemed to think thatln its main elements their style was complete,
and contented themselves with coathmlng the traditional style of their forerunners,
poshing to their extremost limits the principles handed down to them. Thns. the
beieht of the cathedrals was extended till, at Beanrtiis, it exceeded the power of the
architects to prop np the vaolting. The system of bottresses and pinnacles was
developed with the otmost skill, till at last the original simplicity and repose of the
designs were lost, and the exteriors presented an elaborate system of scaffolding
and proppiog-op in stone. The beautifol forms of the early traaery l>ecame distor-
ted into all manner of flowing curves, gracefol but onmeanlng. of the Flaniboynnt
period (q. ▼.) ; and, in short, the art oecame lost in mere cleverness ot design and
dexteritT of execution, and the architect's place was nsarped by the freemason.

It ia in the cathedrals of the 18th and Iftth centuries, above rt^fcrred to, that we
find the noblest development of the Gothic style. Everything tended to make them
so. Tlie nation was nnited in the effort— all the science, all the arts, all the learn-
ing of the tiroes were centred in the church. In it, aud thnt alniont exclusively, the
sculptor, the painter, the historian, the moralist, and the divine, oil found scope for
the expression of their ideas on the scnlptored walls, porches, and niches, or the
painted windows of the cathedrals — the churches of the people.

The progress of this sfyle in other conntries is no less remarkable. At no time
in the world's history did any style of architecture ever spread so wide, or give rise,
in so short a time, to so many splendid bnlldiuirs. No sooner had the style l>een
invented in the central provinces of France, than it Immediately spread over the
whole of the west of Europe, superseding all other styles, and producing similar
splendid buildings wherever it went.

We will note shortly a few of the peculiarities of the style In England. Germany,
and Italy. It spread luso over the south of France and Spula : but the latter cotm-
tries have not yet been fully illostrated.

EnglUh Oothic. — The Normans introduced their ronnd-arched style at the Con.
qaeat-in 1066, and thnre are some fine specimens ot this style boih in England and
Scotland— 8t Cross, Hampshire; Durham Cathedral; Kelho and Jedbnrgb Ab))fys,
&c But these buildings are not copies of those of Normandy. The English have
always, in adopting styles, given them a national impress. As it was with the Nor-
man, so it was to a still greater degree with the pointed Gothic. This was Intro
dooed into England aboat 1174, bv William of Sens, who superintended the rebuild*
ing of Canterburv CathedraL The English architects soon began to follow out a
pointed style of their own. Thev borrowed mnch from France, and worked it out
in their own way, forming what is now called th» Marly Eufflinh style. TIte differ
ences between the early Gothic of France and England extend to almost every do>
taiL The monkiings, bases, caps, pinnacles, buttresses, and foliage of the latter
are all impressed with tlie early English feeling. In France, the feeling of the earty
Gothic is one of unrest— a constant struggle forward. In England, the effort for
progreaa is not so marked— that of carefulness and completeness prevails. The ten.
minalton of a French cathedral or church is Invariably circular ended or apsidal— t
form derived from the circular tomb- bouse or baptistery, which in early Christian



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times was buUt separately, aoA afterwards taken Into the catbedinl. The English
cathedral, on the conirury, is almost always square ended. The French trnuseptn
linvc almost no projection ; the Bofflish ones iiave great projections— Halisbary and
Cauierbnry having Uoo transepts. ITie French catiiedrals uro nhort and very lofty ;
tho finglish, long and coniparativelv low. The French baildintrs are perhaps the
giHndcKt and most aspiring, tlie Bnglish the mopt tlnit«hed and pictiiro:<que.

'I'liu exterior of the chevet was a dlfficalty with the French and Germans, and, us
at 1)t>nnvalB and Cologne, resembles an intricate and confused mass of ^caflfolding.
'i'liifl difflcnlty was avoided bv the English sqnarc ends, which afforded scope forihe
verv English arransemeDt of the **Five Sisters" at York, or for a large field of
suuued ghiM in a single window.

The western portals of the French cathedrals, such as Rheiras and Aralens,
are among the lH)1deBt and roost majruiAcent features of their arcbitectnrc. In
tliese the English were not far behind, as the western portals of Peterborough and
York shew.

Tlie outlines of the English cathedrals arc usnallv very picturesque and well bal-
anoed, the western towers grouping liormouionsly with the central, and iu this respect
the Englisli have tiie advantage.

In the application of vaulting, the English carried oat their own ideas. They
were always fond of wooden roofs, and probably this may have led to the
inveation of the many beautiful kinds of vaults which form so flue a feature of
English Gothic (see Vaulting, B^amtbacery). In England the style lasted longer
than on the continent.

The Germans were nearly a century in adopting the pointed style after its invention
in France ; and when It was introduced, it retuintxi the a|>|)eamnce of a foreign impor-
tation. It never was so completely naturalised as in En^la:ld. 'i*ho so-called beau-
tics of the German Gothic are, for the most part, to lie regarded rather as exoellent
specinieusof masonry than as artistic developments of the style. The open-work
spires, for example, are flue pioco» of conntructiou, and have a striking eflfcct; but
from the iirpt there is a tendency to commit the work to masons, who rejoice iu dis-
playing their manual dexterity. The later Gothic in Germany is tlie most splendid
development of the stone-cutter's art and the di-anghtsmau's ingenuity; these run
riot, while the artist is entirely awanting.

The Gothic style forced It* way also into classic Italy, but there it was never un-
der«tood nor practised in Its true spirit. It was evidently an imitation from the
l>cginning. The Italian architects tried to vie with those of the north in the slxe of
their buildiup, some of wiiicb, as 8an Petronio ut Bologna, and Milan Cathedral, are
enormous. The former illustrat^es the defects of Italian Gothic The arclies are
very wide, and there are few uiers. There is therefore a bare and naked effect,
which is not compensated for by any richness of sculpture or color. There is a
want of Aco/o about Italian Gothic building, an there is about those of Italian classic
architecture, both ancient and modern. Size alone is depended on for procluoing
grandeur of effect. There is no attempt made to mark the siee, and give & scale by
wliicli to jndi^e. of the dimeuslons of tlie buildings in those styles. A large classic
temple is simply a small one magniflod. In true Gothic architecture the case is
different. Not only are the general dimensions magnified in a lartre edifice, i>ut also
tlie parts are multiplied. Tlie columns and shafts remain of the samesiae, buttiieir
numl)er Is increased. The arches are enlarged in proportion to the general dimen-
sions, 1)nt the caps, bases, and mouldings remain of tlie same size as in a smaller
bniUliiig, and thus Indicate the greater size of the arch. A true Gothic bulldinir of
largo dimensions thus tells its own greatness, but in a clast^io or Italian Gothic edifice
the size has to be found out. Stained glass was little usetl in Italy. It may have
been intended to decorate the walls with frescoes— as indeed is the case in a few
examples. The Church of St Francis, at Assist, is the most remarkable building of
this kmd, and is a most interesting example of fresco-decoration.

The towns of Italy, l>eing early enfrancliised. have many municipal baildiDgs in
the Gothic style. These will be treated along with those of Belgium hereafter. See
Municipal Abohitbctubb.

We might, in the same manner, trace the Gothic style in all the other countries
of Western Europe ; but its history is Birallor in all. It is in England and France



Online LibraryJames OrrChambers's new handy volume American encyclopaedia: being a ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 17 of 196)