Gothic Art

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Romanesque may first be sensed in new structural developments.. Sophisticated but unsatisfactory attempts to vault the great basilican naves safely, with elements of Roman, Byzantine, or Eastern origin, impelled progressive Romanesque engineers, from about 1090 onward, to invent a new type of ribbed groin-vaulted unit bay, using pointed arches to distribute thrust and improve the shape of the geometric surfaces. Fifty years of experimentation produced vaulting that was light, strong, open, versatile, and applicable everywhere--in short, Gothic vaulting. A whole new aesthetic, with a new decorative system--the Gothic--was being evolved as early as 1145. The spatial forms of the new buildings sometimes caused acoustic difficulties, which may help to account for the concomitant development of the new polyphonic music that supplemented the traditional Romanesque plainsong. Romanesque architecture became old-fashioned, but its heavy forms pleased the Cistercian monks and, likewise, other conservative patrons in Germany, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Thus, buildings that were essentially Romanesque in spirit continued to be built, even when such extraordinary Gothic works as the Amiens cathedral were under construction (begun 1220). (see also Index: Gothic architecture, music, history of) The development of proto-Romanesque in the Ottonian period culminated in the true Romanesque style represented by five magnificent churches on the international pilgrimage routes leading from central France to the reputed tomb of St. James at Santiago de Compostela in Spain: Saint-Martin at Tours (a huge once wooden-roofed basilica that was rebuilt on the new model beginning about 1050), Sainte-Foy at Conques ( c. 1052-1130), Saint-Martial at Limoges (c. 1062-95), Saint-Sernin at Toulouse (1077 or 1082-1118), and the new cathedral at Santiago de Compostela itself (c. 1075-1211). This was a real family of buildings; each one had a splendid apse with ambulatory (a sheltered place to walk) and radiating chapels, a transept and nave with aisles and galleries, an
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