Front Cover
Books LLC, Reference Series, 2010 - Juvenile Nonfiction - 98 pages
Excerpt: ...this was the period in which Christian Europe touched the summit of its spiritual history: its monuments are everywhere majestic before our eyes. Not only in France, Italy, and Spain, but in England, and as far afield as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, we can see the triumphs of Romanesque art. This was the last level stage on the long journey from Santa Sophia to St. John's Wood. With Gothic architecture the descent began. Gothic architecture is juggling in stone and glass. It is the convoluted road that ends in a bridecake or a cucumber frame. A Gothic cathedral is a tour de force; it is also a melodrama. Enter, and you will be impressed by the incredible skill of the constructor; perhaps you will be impressed by a sense of dim mystery and might; you will not be moved by pure form. You may groan "A-a-h" and collapse: you will not be strung to austere ecstasy. Walk round it, and take your pleasure in subtleties of the builder's craft, quaint corners, gargoyles, and flying buttresses, but do not expect the thrill that answers the perception of sheer rightness of form. In architecture the new spirit first came to birth; in architecture first it dies. We find the spirit alive at the very end of the twelfth century in Romanesque sculpture and in stained glass: we can see it at Chartres and at Bourges. At Bourges there is an indication of the way things are going in the fact that in an unworthy building we find glass and some fragments of sculpture worthy of Chartres, and not unworthy of any age or place. Cimabue and Duccio are the last great exponents in the West of the greater tradition

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