Understanding romanesque art

This idea was embodied by the emergence of Romanesque art, which developed during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Thousands of surviving contemporary accounts tell of very hard times as forming an essential part of a European consciousness.

Understanding romanesque art

This period of folk migration is one of prehistoric arts and crafts, which are well known. Various discoveries of golden ornaments and coins show the long route followed by the Germanic tribes in their journey from the East into France and Spain. The careless and simple beauty of the jewellery of the Merovingian King, Childeric, who died inbetrays the influence of classical traditions, which were not, however, just feebly accepted, but adapted in a masterful way, often without full understanding.

The Merovingian period was not a bridge between antiquity and the Middle Ages; it produced no late flowering of the ancient culture and literature, such as Gothic Roman culture did in the writings of a Cassiodorus or a Boetius.

After Theodoric the Great had secured a leading position by alliances with all the Germanic states, it seemed at first as though Rome, under Gothic rule, would peacefully combine the old and the new; but the Merovingians, under Clovis, made this impossible. In the East, Byzantium was able to hold out for some centuries only because she could draw upon the hardy highland peoples of the Balkans and Asia Minor.

In western Europe the centre of evolution moved northwards, for there were its new sources of energy.

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The old Viking decorative art is often discussed and described, but is usually misunderstood: But more important than their ultimate origin is their autocratic disdain of symmetry, their avoidance of geometrical forms, and their restless, undisciplined energy.

If one wanted to invent a new art to express an age of restless transition, one could imagine nothing more appropriate than this, which never derives its motives from geometry, but always creates a living and organic pattern. In the Understanding romanesque art manuscripts of the early Christian period, in particular those of the Irish and the Anglo-Saxons - peoples who as early as the fifth century had their Christian churches and monasteries - the spiritual character of this new art is clear.

Understanding romanesque art

Thanks to the far-reaching missionary activities of the Irish monks, we have not only such priceless illuminated manuscripts as the Book of Durrow and the Book of Kellsbut also manuscripts with richly illuminated initials from such Continental centres as St Gall, Paris, Toulouse, and Laon.

This art of Northern and Eastern Europe includes lively trellis-work and animal motifs, visible in the miniatures of its manuscripts, or the ornamental metal-work of tools and weapons, or its brooches - the so-called fibulae.

Only the West is still faithful to the style of the Byzantine and Armenian miniatures, but without succumbing to hieratic stylization, indulging rather in the unruly, vital fantasies of the Age of Migration.

In their architecture, on the other hand, they were more influenced by the forms of Roman art ; indeed, this architecture was at first a synthesis of antique prototypes, rather than a new creation. The tomb of Theodoric the Great in Ravenna; Charlemagne's chapel in Aix, built on the model of the church of San Vitale, and consecrated in the year ; or the Carolingian gatehouse at Lorsch, are various stages in the acceptance of these traditional forms, which the new rulers adopted with delight.

Thus the whole of the Carolingian period, from tomust be regarded as pre-Romanesque, and in a certain sense as a survival of antiquity. Although the course of history, during this process, was not untroubled, and although the Middle Ages were disturbed by violent conflicts between Emperor and Pope, and by the Crusades, yet one cannot fail to realize the power and the unity of the feelings quietly at work behind the turmoil.

Followers of a faith which taught them to worship the Sun as the life-giving Power and personified the forces of Nature as gods, yet fearing life in spite of all their magic, the heathens encountered the Christian philosophy.

It seemed to them that there was great magic in the Christian scriptures, and they painted the letters as living creatures. Knowledge of Latin taught them the values of a high and ancient civilizationto which they dedicated their unspoiled energies. For these peoples Christianity was not a refuge for the weary, but a new assurance of life, an ordering of the universe such as they had not found in the old doctrine.

Since there was a Judge in heaven, who looked into the hearts of mankind, and since the new faith told them, even to the least particulars, what was right and wrong, the young Christian could really look up to God as to a loving father in heaven. Only the general piety can explain the fact that the influence of authority was often incredibly disproportionate to its power.

While one cannot find a common denominator for the infinitely rich and varied life of many centuries, yet the Romanesque world does seem to be one vast commmunity, united by Christianity.

The Middle Ages have been called a night lasting almost a thousand years; but the night was bright with stars. In spite of the universal religious control, Romanesque, and much later, Gothic man, was able to realize his individual personality. Art needed powerful stimuli; at first there were churches and monasteries, then universities and religious orders, and finally states, cities, and individual patrons.

The result of all these various forms was that little remained of the antique forms, apart from the ornamental motifs. The unifying sense of Romanesque art appears in the intimate union of poetry and music; metrical accentuations, and, above all, the rhymes, indicate the revival and independence of the sense of rhythm, to which the Latin quantitative metre had become unintelligible.

The founders of the monastery of Cluny, at the beginning of the tenth century, reformed the rules of the Benedictine Order in accordance with the spirit of the times, threw off the last traces of Byzantine stiffness, and established a spiritual order, above political confusion and threatening social dissolution, which made war upon ignorance and immorality and provided a refuge for scholars.

This combination of religious idealism with organizing ability gave life a purpose; what remained after the disintegration of the Carolingian empire, which had been too closely wedded to antiquity, had now to find its place in the new religious community, which laid down the future conditions of European civilization.

For everyone a spiritual attitude was prescribed, to which the individual was subordinated, and which was maintained in the peasant's hut as well as the king's court, in the monastic cell no less than in the bishop's palace.

Only thus could such a personality as Bernard of Clairvaux, a simple abbot, not only govern the Cistercian Order for a whole generation, but rule the destinies of the entire Western world. The finest expression of this monastic piety was the Romanesque style.

Romanesque Church Architecture In Romanesque religious architecture practical considerations were gradually superseded by aesthetic; from the outwardly simple meeting-house of the Christian basilica, the church, even in its external aspect, became a majestic monument.


The individual parts of the early Christian basilica survived the longest; but the whole aspect of the structure very quickly changed. The ratio of height to width, which in early Christian art were approximately equal, increased until the nave was sometimes twice as high as the building was wide.

The bell-tower, the campanile, which had hitherto stood by itself, now moved up against the body of the church, which often had two such towers.

At first the twin towers were built on either side of the fascade, while the ground-plan assumed the form of the Latin cross, with a transept coming between the chancel and the nave.

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The crossing of nave and transept was crowned by a dome or a tower. In the apse, where the choir stood, there was too little room for the clergy, always very numerous in the great monastery churches; so the nave was continued beyond the crossing, providing a chancel for the choir.

As a rule this was shut off from the nave and the transepts by stone barriers or screens, and the screen facing the nave often contained a sort of platform, the lectorium or lectern, from which the Gospels were read. When wooden roofs, still very usual in the Romanesque churches, were abandoned - often for practical reasons, and on account of the danger of fire - in favour of vaulted roofs, the crossing of nave and transepts determined the whole ground-plan of the Romanesque basilica.This is the learning log for my Understanding Art 1: Western Art with the Open College of the Arts.

Thursday, March 10, Unit 4: Romanesque and Gothic Art Romanesque Art and Architecture. Romanesque art developed from the late 10 th century to the 12 th century. Their most prominent contribution can be seen in the .

Understanding romanesque art

Between Romanesque and antique art there is an interval of many centuries, during which the Northern tribes made their entry into history. This period of folk migration is one of prehistoric arts and crafts, which are well known.

Various discoveries of golden ornaments and coins show the long route. Start studying Understanding Art Test 1. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. Romanesque art is for the most part religious in its imagery, but this is partly a matter of what has survived, and there are examples of secular art from the period.

Unusual is a casket in The British Museum, a product of Limoges craftsmanship, which is made of wood with champlevé enamels attached to it (produced by heating powdered glass set.

The Romanesque is the first international style in Western Europe since antiquity—extending across the Mediterranean and as far north as Scandinavia.

Four styles of . The Romanesque paintings used to illustrate the religious and idyllic passages and reinforce the clear understanding through the narratives; uses a simple representation of the images supported by intense and contrasted colors as well as black out liner contours against the simplest background possible.

Sorry! Something went wrong! This period of folk migration is one of prehistoric arts and crafts, which are well known. Various discoveries of golden ornaments and coins show the long route followed by the Germanic tribes in their journey from the East into France and Spain.
In the second half of the 11th century in many parts of Europe new energies and new initiatives are apparent in painting, sculpture, and architecture.
Glass Painting in Romanesque Art The glass painting was in this period also a format used to support the religious propaganda, making good use of the possibility to narrate the passages of the bible with a potent vehicle; using the strong power that the light aport coming from the exterior of the buildings through the decorated glass windows. The use of barrel vaults made possible the construction of huge interior spaces; built entirely of stone, but since the roofs were extremely heavy, the walls had to be tremendously thick to prevent buckling.

Romanesque painting has therefore two important features one is its symbolic nature and the.

Understanding Art 1: Western Art (Learning Log): Unit 4: Romanesque and Gothic Art