> now that you've deigned to come out of your Canadian Hibernation, Jim
Christopher (and Marjorie),
I have actually been thawing out in Cuba: Feliz Navidad!
> howsabout tackling those other simple questions Marjorie Greene axed the list
> in all innocence (i would, but that stuff gives me the Headache and makes my
> teeth itch):
> >With regard to architectural style names, what name would be given to
> the architecture 479-1000 other than pre-Romanesque? Wasn't much built of wood
> and hence does not survive? If so, how could anyone give a name to a style
> whose appearance is unknown?
Much was indeed built in wood, thatch, etc. Virtually the whole of
the Germanic architectural tradition has thus disappeared, except in
such "survivals" (or transmutations) as the stave churches of Norway,
which in all likelihood incorporate substantial elements of
pre-Christian religious architecture. The problem with pigeon-holing
architecture, or any other aspect of European culture during the
period 476-1000 (last western Roman Emperor died in 476, not 479), is
that one is faced with a situation of dramatic cultural
confrontation, as various Germanic peoples took over the former area
of the western Empire. The remnants of Late Roman architectural
tradition struggled on, but the results were dramatically varied.
The city of Rome maintained a level of technical expertise that
simply cannot be found elsewhere. And it is not just that masonry
churches were built on a dramatically smaller scale, all over western
Europe. Their forms changed from an essentially basilican plan to
small, often highly compartmentalized structures, the significance of
which is not completely known (such factors as the Mozarabic rite are
undoubtedly involved). And it is best to characterize what has
survived in highly regional and culturally specific terms. Lombard
churches like Castelseprio and Sta Maria in Valle in Cividale (very,
very different structures) are unlike what survives in Visigothic
Spain (San Juan de Banos, San Pedro de la Nave, Sta Comba de Bande,
etc.) and Frankish Gaul (Poitiers baptistry, Jouarre, etc.) and
Anglo-Saxon England (Jarrow, Escombe, etc.). Then along came the
Carolingian "renaissance" which engineered a revival of Constantinian
and other Italian traditions (cf. Charlemagne's palace chapel at
Aachen vs. San Vitale in Ravenna), which was very different -- and
more imposing -- than anything that had been built for centuries.
Trying to impose a single stylistic category on all this varied
material -- not to mention the dry-stone, corbelled huts of Ireland
(Gallarus Oratory, Skellig Michael) -- verges on the insane. The
"regional" nature of Romanesque is much more uniform than the
architecture of the "Early Middle Ages", which is a difficult period
to know what to do with on any cultural level.
> >A more interesting question to me, nomenclature being rather dull, is
> why this dramatic change in the depiction of the human person at this
> particular moment? (I do realize that the "realism" of Gothic sculpture lagged
> behind the development in architecture, so please don't pounce!)
No one has successfully cracked this one. There was an exhibition
and conference on 'The Year 1200' in the early 1970s, and the
exhibition catalogue and symposium papers still make very interesting
reading. The "naturalism" of Gothic sculpture undoubtedly had
incredibly varied roots. There is some evidence that artists were
looking at surviving classical works. Contemporary Byzantine style
certainly exercised enormous influence (more and more, as art
historians continue to consider it), and artists appear, as well, to
have been observing nature in a new way, this latter at the very time
that Aristotelian science was making a huge impact at universities
such as Paris. The whole melange is still highly baffling to me, and
any other perspectives would be very welcome.
> just a few simple questions, no problem.
> and, her observation that
> >The "genum" of ["opus"] "francigenum" is related etymologically to "genesis,"
> "genus," and probably others.
> will do for me --"work of French origin."
Cologne Cathedral has, only half jokingly, been called the purest
French Gothic building of the 13th century. The spread of "French"
Rayonnant style is another complex phenomenon. A very good treatment
of this is Caroline A. Bruzelius, 'ad modum franciae:
Charles of Anjou and Gothic Architecture in the Kingdom of Sicily',
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 50 (1991),
> >Sure, it's a made-up word - aren't they all?
> yes, but some words are more made up than others.
Certainly, you are right in this. Most "Gothic" material is pretty
obviously "Gothic". As Louis Armstrong (I believe) once said, when
asked what jazz is: "If you have to ask, you'll never know."