Monday, October 11, 2010

Gothic Art Style Overview

 Medieval Art Style

By OCAL at

Gothic Art grew out of Romanesque Art. Both of these artistic periods occurred in the Middle Ages. Romanesque Art materialized around 1000 A.D., peaked from 1075 A.D. until 1125 A.D. in England, Italy, France and the German realms. It ended about 1150 A.D.; it had become Gothic Art.

Both of these medieval art eras produced sculpture, paintings, and architecture. Romanesque denotes the blending of Roman, Carolingian, and Byzantine styles with Germanic influences. In some locales the Gothic Art era lasted into the latter 16th century.

During the Renaissance, Italian writers (theorists) coined the term Gothic Art as an insult to the style. They preferred Classical art and culture of the Roman Empire and blamed the Gothic clans that invaded and pulverized the Roman Empire in the 5th century for inventing the Gothic style. These writers considered this art ugly, barbaric, and unrefined. An early terminology for Gothic was Opus Francigenum meaning French work.


Architecture prevailed as the leading art form in the Gothic period. The main distinguishing architectural features were developed to hold heavy ceiling vaults over wider areas of the cathedral and at increasing heights. Thus, pointed arches, stoned ribs, and flying buttresses were developed.

Colossal sculptures decorated the walls of cathedrals and abbeys. Most of this art represents medieval allegory. It depicted stories of the Bible. The lives of saints and Mary's image were also shown.


Early Gothic painting used hieratic, rigged, and simple figures and shapes, but it grew into using naturalistic and spatial forms. This change contrasted with Byzantine and Romanesque styles. 

There were four types of Gothic painting: panels, frescoes, illuminated manuscripts, and stained glass. The style continued for over two-hundred years. 


Gothic sculpture incorporated the Romanesque gates, decoration, and tombs, but it added winged alter pieces, ecclesiastical statues, and heraldic stones. Whereas, Romanesque sculpture is thickset and angular, Gothic sculpture is tall and lean.

The swan song of the Gothic era began when the Renaissance style started to develop in the 15th century, even though the Gothic style was utilized into the 16th century.

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