The Gothic Age
Standing before a piece of Gothic art, whether it is a painting, sculpture or a cathedral, you are drawn to a visual exploration like none you have ever seen. Where does the art start and end? The style of Gothic art draws the eye's attention at every turn. A choir of medieval spiritual beliefs is told in art, singing harmoniously in a language from long ago, which eludes us at the frontier of our memory reminding us of stories told throughout the years.
History of Gothic Art
Gothic is the name given to the style of architecture, painting, and sculpture which flourished in Western Europe, mainly France and England, between the ...view middle of the document...
Gothic art, as with all art forms during this period, dealt heavily with the spread of Christianity. Therefore, one would find Gothic art forms associated with religious manuscripts, paintings, sculptures, and most notably, architecture.
During the middle of the twelfth century, in the region surrounding Paris, several innovative art and craft forms began to coalesce within the renovations of existing church structures. Initially consisting of hybrid elements within earlier buildings, primarily the Romanesque abbeys, the new style soon accentuated its own merits.
Gothic style painting draws its inspiration from Gothic style architecture, which predates it by about 100 years. Its mission, to accent the cathedrals created in this new motif of divine light, and naturalism. The gothic themes are preserved in painting: the subject is liturgical; the divine enlightenment is portrayed through the use of brighter colors, compared to Romanesque painting, gothic style illustrated its subjects in a more natural fashion, and there is a certain “softness”, or warmth to these painting unseen before in this medium (Gothic Style).
The qualities associated with the gothic painting style first appeared in Italy at the end of the 13th century, and would last until the end of the 15th century. By the end of its appeal, the gothic style would spread out all across Europe, splintering into four separate sub-styles: Linear, Italo-Gothic, International, and Hispano-Flemish. (Gothic Painting)
Early Gothic paintings are mainly illustrations on wooden panels. This may have to do with a certain level of poverty, or may represent a certain level of practicality: adornments on the Church’s furniture. The panel was first prepared with a type of preservative. The design was next outlined with a punch, and then painted with a tempera mixture (Early Gothic), an emulsion of color pigments and egg whites. Tempera was the forerunner of oil-based paints (Artlex).
The linear style of Gothic painting is known for its understatements. It employees a sophisticated color scheme where background and secondary objects are represented in monochrome and drawn in a sterile, picture within a picture technique. The figures and foreground objects however, have a degree of warmth and are much more expressive than the Romanesque or Byzantine work which preceded this style (Gothic Painting).
Figure 1:Panel from the Tomb of Don Sancho Saiz de Carillo. Artist unknown.
The Italo-Gothic sub-style championed by Ferrer Bassa of Barcelona is noted for its sense of balance and attention to portraying of mannerisms. As in the linear style, background is typically in monochrome, the form difference though is a subtle introduction of perspective, a third dimension.
Figure 2: Three Women at the Tomb. Bassa, Ferrer
Towards the end of the 14th century, a sense of realism began to creep into painting. These facets included a true...