|« Archimandrite||Architecture, Ecclesiastical||Architecture, Hebrew »|
First Places of Christian Worship (§ 1).
First Special Buildings (§ 2).
Changes Demanded by Altered Circumstances of Christians (§ 3).
Origin of the Christian Basilica (§ 4).
First Step toward a Church Building (§ 5).
Second Step (§ 6).
Church-Building Activity after 313 (§ 7).
Basilica Style Reproduced (§ 8).
Change to Circular Buildings (§ 9).
Memorial Churches (§ 10).
Basilica the Accepted Type of Western Medieval Churches (§ 11).
Combination of Basilica and Domed Styles (§ 12).
The Romanesque Basilica (§13).
Variations in the Details of the Romanesque Basilica (§ 14).
The Vaulted Church (§ 15).
Differences between the Ancient and Romanesque Basilica (§ 16).
French Ecclesiastical Development (§ 17).
Introduction of the Gothic Style (§ 18).
Its Adoption in France and Germany (§ 19).
No Present Single Predominant Type (§ 20).
II. English Ecclesiastical Architecture.
Romanesque Architecture (§ 1).
Introduction of Gothic (§ 2).
Three Periods (§ 3).
Characteristics of English Gothic (§ 4).
The Smaller English Churches (§ 5).
Renaissance Architecture (§ 6)
Modern English Architecture (§ 7).
III. Ecclesiastical Architecture in America.
I. General Treatment:
Christian architecture, as a separate and independent thing, exists no more than a Christian state. The conception of a state is not altered by the fact that its citizens happen to be Christians; nor does architecture receive its essential form from being used for Christian or non-Christian purposes. Some of the problems of architecture were altered with the advent of Christianity, as it had now to build churches instead of temples, one of the most important tasks ever laid upon architecture, and in fact for many centuries almost the only important one. The first question to be considered is the origin of this problem, the origin, that is, of specially designed church buildings.
1. The First Places of Worship.
The oldest documents referring to Christian worship show that the faithful assembled in the house of some member of the Church. At Jerusalem they met from house to house (Acts ii. 46); at Troas in an upper room (Acts xx. 7-8); Paul designated Christian Gaius as the host of the whole church of Corinth (Rom. xvi. 23), implying that when they came together as a church, they met in his house. The mention of upper rooms does not prove that such were the only parts of the houses in which these gatherings took place; and we must remember that these houses were usually the small houses of poor people, constructed in the usual manner of the Greco-Roman world. Since the rooms were generally small, there would be no place for the assembly as soon as it got beyond a small number, except in the atrium or court-yard; the contention that divine worship could not have been held there, because the sacred mysteries would have been exposed to profane eyes, can not be upheld, as the arcani disciplina is of later growth. This domestic worship was in harmony with the spirit of early Christianity, full as it was of ideas of one family of brethren. A Christian house was the ideal place for it. The primitive Church, therefore, lacked not only the means but the motive to erect any special building for divine worship; it had no temples, and expressly rejected the idea of building them (cf., e.g., Minucius Felix, Octavius, x., xxxii.).
2. The First Special Buildings.
Nevertheless, it was not long before special buildings were erected for worship, and considered holy. To understand the change, it is necessary to try to fix the date at which this took place. Unquestionably special places existed in Alexandria in the time of Origen (cf. his “On Prayer,” xxxi. 5, Berlin ed., p. 398); but the date may be put further back by observation of the popular use of the term ekklēsia. In classical Greek meaning an assembly of citizens, it came in Christian use to denote, first the gathering of the believers, then the Christian community either local or universal, and finally the meeting-place. This last use is common by the beginning of the fourth century; it is found in Eusebius and in his Latin contemporary Lactantius (De mort. persec., xii., p. 186, ed. Brandt and Laubmann). But still earlier, Clement of Alexandria (Strom., vii. 5, p. 846, ed. Potter), Hippolytus (In Dan., i. 20, p. 32), and Tertullian (De idol., p. 36), shortly before or shortly after the year 200, all apply the word to a distinctly recognized place of worship. The two latter also call it “the house of God.” The Greek term kyriakon (Eng. “church”), with its Latin equivalent dominicum, appears somewhat later. But by about 200 there were at least two recognized names for a Christian place of worship, and the existence of a name demonstrates the prior existence of the thing. Whether these buildings belonged to the community or to individual Christians can scarcely be answered with certainty for the third century; the theory of corporate ownership is doubtful at the beginning of this period, though it becomes demonstrable toward the close. The edict of Constantine and Licinius, given in Eusebius, Hist. eccl., x. 5, in 313 assumes a generally recognized corporate possession of many Christian meeting-places.
3. Changes Demanded by Altered Circumstances of Christians.
Between the spring of 58, when Gaius was receiving the church of Corinth in his house, and the time about 200, when a Christian goes into a special “house of God,” Christianity had ceased to be the close brotherhood which it was at first; it had developed a complicated organization, with a marked distinction between clergy and laity; the conceptions of priest and sacrifice had won a place. And as the body changed, so did its worship; the place which had sufficed for the simple, informal gatherings of the first Christians was no longer adequate.
4. Origin of the Christian Basilica.
The next question, as to the form of these earliest distinct churches, is one which it is 265 impossible to answer certainly from direct tradition. But it can not be avoided, because on it depends another, as to the origin of the Christian basilica, than which there is none more important in the whole range of ecclesiastical archeology. The basilica has an influence on the development of church architecture to the present day, and this development is unintelligible without an attempt to arrive at a theory of the origin of this structural form. Its definition is not matter of controversy; it is an oblong building, divided by rows of pillars into three (or sometimes five) aisles, the central one the highest and covered with a flat roof, with a projecting addition, generally semicircular, more rarely square, at one end. When, however, it is asked how such a building came to be constructed for Christian worship, there is no such possibility of agreement. It has been held to have originated from the forensic basilica or the so called private basilica; from the Roman dwelling-house or the cella cimiterialis; and from the demands of Christian worship by a new creation. The limits of an article like the present preclude minute examination of these various theories; but obvious objections lie against all of them, as they are expressed by their defenders. The most certain fact in this whole discussion is that when the Church was established under Constantine, it did not need to go in search of a form for its buildings; the form already existed, substantially the same in all parts of the empire. It is not too much to say that we are forced to consider the form found in the beginning of the fourth century as the product of a long course of development. From what has been said, it follows that this development took place approximately from 180 to 300. Eusebius (Hist. eccl., viii. 1, 5) indicates, that before 260 the churches were what we might call small oratories, but increased in size after that date—though this increase must not be exaggerated; the facts that the famous church of Nicomedia could be razed to the ground in a few hours (Lactantius, De mort. persec., xii., p. 187; Athanasius, Apol. ad Const., xv., ed. Maur, i. 1, p. 241), and that the churches of Treves and Aquileia needed to be replaced by larger buildings as early as 336, show that it was only relative. Thus, though the hypothesis of a development from the private house of the earliest age is attractive, it does not lead directly to the basilican form, which in its essence requires a considerable size; a basilica for one or even two hundred people could not have been constructed. What we need, and what these various theories do not provide, is an intermediate stage.
5. First Step toward a Church Building.
A direct prescription as to church-building is found for the first time in a fourth century passage incorporated with the Apostolic Constitutions (II. lvii. 3), which shows what was then regarded as essential. This was very little; it is limited to a marking of the distinction between clergy and laity, and a special place for the bishop. Accordingly, the place set apart for the clergy was a more or less fixed dimension; its form might vary—it might be made either by the cutting off of one end, or by the addition of a semicircular or oblong space, in the middle of which was the bishop’s seat. That the semicircular or apsidal form finally prevailed is due partly to acoustic considerations—the bishop preached from his throne—and partly to the esthetic motive which made this form a popular one in the architecture of the imperial period. The space assigned to the laity, as long as they were comparatively few in number, could only be a simple oblong, the form which appears as normal in the Apostolic Constitutions. This general type, of a simple oblong room with an apse at one end, may safely be taken as that of the churches which after 260 were demolished or abandoned. None of them is preserved; but churches like Santa Balbina in Rome and that of Hidra in Africa show that this form did not at once disappear even when the basilica became the recognized type. The Hidra church is particularly instructive; it is square and small—if the measurements given by Kraus are correct, the sides are only about 20 feet, with a corresponding apsidal presbyterium. This is the church for not more than 100 people which we need for our intermediate stage.
6. Second Step.
The development from this to the basilica falls probably in the period between 260 and 303, which was marked by great activity in building. The motive of the change was the need for more space; the problem was, how to attain this end without upsetting the recognized plan of an oblong auditorium with an added apse for the clergy. The proportional lengthening of the main hall could not go far, as the extension of the width was limited. The only thing to do was to break up the width, and thus came a division of aisles. The final solution, that of a wide central division with narrower side aisles, does not seem to have been reached at once; the basilica at Hidra shows the singular arrangement of side aisles wider than the middle section. A period of experiment must have come first; but, given the division, both esthetic and practical considerations inevitably suggested the plan finally adopted. The middle section being the main division, its raising to a greater height followed, for purposes of lighting, especially since other buildings must have frequently stood on each side of the church. This arrangement was not new; it has been found, for example, in the temples of Hierapolis and Samothrace; and thus it is not surprising that the same or a similar solution of the problem was found simultaneously in different places—though it probably required some time for this solution to be universally recognized as the best, as it was in the fourth century. The designation of churches as basilicas must have begun in the third century, since it is already a familiar term at the beginning of the fourth. This transition was the easier because the original meaning of the word had been practically superseded by what was nearly the sense of our word “hall."
7. Church-Building Activity after 313.
With the reign of Constantine begins the building of large and splendid churches, through his encouragement and the activity of the bishops, first in the East, later in Rome and the West. The earliest 266 266 was the church at Tyre under Licinius; then follow, under Constantine, the buildings at Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Mamre, Constantinople, Nicomedia, Heliopolis, and perhaps St. Peter’s in Rome. None of these remains; the oldest large basilicas extant, Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome and the churches of Ravenna, belong to the fifth and sixth centuries. Thus we are dependent on the descriptions of the lost buildings, the first of which is the unfortunately too rhetorical account given by Eusebius (Hist. eccl., x. 4) of the church at Tyre. According to this picture, it corresponded in essential details to the type of basilica found in Africa and the West; but we learn from the latter not to suppose that everything described by Eusebius was uniformly present.
8. Basilica Style Reproduced.
Though the adoption of the basilican style did not exclude creative freedom on the part of the architect, no further development of the idea ever took place in the Roman empire. Here, as in other things, we see the powerless despair which contented itself with endless reproductions of an accepted type, and reproductions which were successively poorer. The basilican style in itself, however, was capable of development to a marked degree. Among the artistic creations of the ancient world, it was the one which was destined to have the greatest future. It is conceived wholly in the ancient spirit, as is shown particularly in the feeling for space which regulated its dimensions. The relation of height to length and breadth shows that the beauty of the building was sought in broad, dignified extent. That it grew up in an era of decaying art is evident on the face of it. Only in the rows of columns which divide the aisles is constructive necessity made to minister to beauty; nowhere in the rest of the building is there any attempt to please. There is nothing more depressing in the history of architecture than the straight brick walls, only broken here and there by a few small windows, that enclose it. Decoration of a sumptuous kind partly makes us forget this poverty; but the decoration is purely arbitrary, extraneous, not required by the nature of the plan.
9. Change to Circular Buildings.
The basilica, then, was the normal type of churches built to hold congregations assembled for worship. But these were not the only ecclesiastical buildings thought of after the fourth century. Special ritual observances or the desire to display princely pomp brought about the use of the circular structure, which became the normal one for baptisteries and memorial chapels. As to the former, when we remember that adult baptism was frequent, that immersion was customary; and that the observance of regular seasons for baptism made the number of candidates large, we see that a comparatively large pool was required; and the building constructed to enclose it naturally allowed for placing it in the center, and so could be only circular. The building of memorial churches was begun by Constantine with that of the Holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem, and again the circular or polygonal form was proscribed by its relation to the sacred object or the tomb which they were intended to enshrine. The simple structure might be enriched by a number of small chapels or niches, or surrounded by a corridor; a cupola or dome necessarily covered it. Here it was not so much the working out of a new form as the adaptation of one already existing; even when the chapels were prolonged so as to make the ground-plan into a Greek cross, it was scarcely a new form. Examples are the Lateran baptistery and the two at Ravenna, the tombs of Galla Placidia and Theodoric at Ravenna, and the church of Santa Costanza in Rome.
10. Memorial Churches.
When an attempt was made to use these buildings for general purposes of worship, a new problem arose in the laying out of the approved places for clergy and people. Churches of this type were used in the East for congregational purposes as early as Constantine’s reign; according to Eusebius’s description (Vita Const., iii. 50, p. 207), that which the emperor built at Antioch was apparently an octagonal building surmounted by a cupola, and so was the one put up by the father of Gregory Nazianzen in his see city (Orat., xviii. 39, MPG, xxxv. 1037), while Gregory of Nyasa (Epist., xxv., MPG, xlvi. 1093) describes a similar one. But we know nothing of the interior arrangements of these. Later (not before the second half of the fifth century) comes the puzzling church of Santo Stefano Rotondo on the Celian Hill, whose size proves that it was meant for public worship. This, the ugliest building of the kind ever constructed, only shows how far the Roman architect was from understanding his task; he built a church as he would have built a memorial chapel, without realizing the total difference in requirements. Yet, in spite of all the difficulties presented by this form, especially by the absence of perspective when the altar was placed in the middle, a certain number of churches were built with which no basilica can compare in beauty—really the highest achievements of the older ecclesiastical architecture. The best of these is San Vitale at Ravenna (early sixth century). Here one of the eight chapels is removed, and a longer apse put in its place, which gives a certain effect of length—though only by a disturbance of the harmony of the original plan. Much more admirable is the solution found in the church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, and, more completely, in St. Sophia, both in Constantinople. But here the essence of this central form of structure is not only disturbed, as in San Vitals—it is absolutely abandoned. In the Greek and Russian churches the domed church became the accepted type, after the model of St. Sophia. The ground-plan of the latter was not commonly followed, the cruciform being preferred; and thus, when each arm of the cross was surmounted with its cupola, as well as the central space, they became simply a number of similar connecting rooms, and the main attraction of the type, its impressive unity, was lost.
11. Basilica the Accepted Type of Western Medieval Churches.
The new peoples who were to carry on the work of civilization during the Middle Ages inherited in the basilica a type capable of great development, though not, as it came to them, much developed. 267 It was the only type which had great influence on medieval architecture. The men of the Middle Ages were by no means blind to the attractions of the style which we call the Byzantine; but the attempts made in that style, as by Charlemagne at Aachen in imitation of San Vitale, and by others after the Church of the Holy Sepulcher had aroused the admiration of the crusaders, were only sporadic; they did not determine the future progress of ecclesiastical architecture, which has the basilica for its true starting-point.
12. Combination of Basilica and Domed Styles.
It is worth while to examine the attitude of the different modern nations toward this inheritance of the past. In Rome building activity was never at a standstill, though a large part of it was mere restoration. But for six centuries after Gregory the Great (d. 604), people did not conceive the idea that they could build otherwise than as their fathers had built. The new churches of the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, Santa Maria in Trastevere and San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, simply reproduce the scheme of the basilica; yet when Honorius III. (1216-27) began the latter, Gothic churches had been building in France for more than fifty years. Rome, then, has nothing to do with the history of medieval church architecture. The rest of Italy was not quite so unfruitful. Tuscany is far from poor in admirable medieval buildings. These are partly in the old line of development—San Miniato at Florence, for all its attractive features, shows no trace of new constructive ideas—and partly carry it further. This is especially the case with the cathedral of Pisa, which is not only the most successful example of what Tuscan artists could do in the handling of large masses and in richness of decoration, but carries the basilican principle a distinct step further. It is enlarged into a frankly cruciform shape, and carries the principal feature of the Byzantine style, the dome. But, however celebrated are the beauties of this cathedral, one can not deny that the combination of these two widely different forms is less successful here than in San Vitale and St. Sophia. There is an especially irreconcilable antagonism between the dome and the flat roof of the nave. The cathedral of Pisa does not unfold the possibilities latent in the basilican type—it merely attaches to this type a foreign element. In the north of Italy a more decisive forward step was taken, when its architects boldly faced the problem of the vaulting of the basilica. The answer was not found at once. In Sant’ Ambrogio at Milan the execution of the vaulting is at the expense of the lighting of the nave, and the church is gloomy in spite of Italian suns. San Michele at Pavia and the cathedral of Parma were the first to succeed in obviating this defect.
13. The Romanesque Basilica.
But the progress of wide development of the basilican scheme is not connected with the Lombard churches it goes on across the Alps, where from the Frankish period its course is uninterrupted. Its first effort was the so called Romanesque basilica, though the name is modern and not very satisfactory. The development of this second important type is not as obscure as that of the original basilica but here, too, difficulties abound. The weakest feature of the old basilica was the arrangement of the transverse section; and it was here that the innovators took up the task. Cruciform basilicas had been built in the Frankish kingdom even before Charlemagne; and the emphasis laid upon this shape leads us to think that symbolic more than artistic considerations determined its adoption. Yet the esthetic gain was considerable. It led to the lengthening of the choir or chancel into a harmonious proportion to the total length of the church. The raising of the choir above the level of the nave has been thought to have originated in the increasing veneration of relics; altars had long been erected over the graves of the martyrs, but now the narrow crypts of the earlier period gave place to larger chapels, with the result indicated. Possibly the same motive led to the addition of a second apse at the western end of the church, which was, in any case, a step toward connecting the church and the tower. Towers had not been a part of the original basilica, except in some cases in Syria. At the very beginning of the Middle Ages, without, it would seem, any influence from the East, the oldest towers begin to appear in Italy—unlovely erections in the shape of a cylinder or a parallelepiped, which display the inability of the period to construct an architectural work divided into well-related parts. No attempt was made to connect them with the church. In the Frankish kingdom the construction of towers is at least as old as in Italy—in any case pre-Carolingian; but here we meet with attempts to break up the unwieldy mass and to place it in relation to the church. Another change was in the supports of the roof. The old columns were replaced by heavier pillars, capable of bearing a greater weight; and this was again a step in advance. The use of columns in the basilicas was a degradation of this fine element of classical architecture, which was not designed to support the lofty walls of the nave of the Christian church. The architects of the fourth and fifth centuries were insensible to the discordance between their form and their use; but whether or not the German innovators felt it, they removed it. The tendency to go beyond tradition thus showed itself in the most various ways in the Frankish empire; how far it had gone by the first half of the ninth century may be seen in the plans of St. Gall. The final result was the Romanesque basilica which dominated all the Christian countries north of the Alps.
14. Variations in the Detail of the Romanesque Basilica.
Though, however, there is this general agreement in type, each country developed along its own lines. The most instructive illustrations may be taken from France and Germany. In the latter country the plan of the old basilica was preserved in these particulars: The threefold division of the congregation’s part, the raising and direct lighting of the nave, the flat roof, and the termination of the whole building in an apse or choir. Four main features were new. The first is the preference for 268 the cruciform structure, from which sprang the establishment of fixed proportions for the whole church; the square formed by the intersection of the two arms of the cross was taken as the unit, to be repeated once on each of three sides, and twice or three times on the other. The second new feature is the connection of the tower or towers with the church, so that under various arrangements, with one, two, or more towers, the aim was always to present them as an integral part of the building. The third point is that the attention was no longer concentrated on the interior; by the development of façades and doorways, by the breaking up and diversifying of the wall-surface, the exterior of the church took on a new character of imposing beauty. Fourthly, the individual elements of the whole were freely worked over and transformed. The old models were not cast aside—the acanthus capital was imitated for a long time—but new forms, appropriate both to the material and to the special end in view, were boldly created. Outside, however, of these general characteristics, there was the greatest freedom in design. In one place an apse was added on the eastern side of each transept, forming a termination to the side aisles. In another, the side aisles were carried out beyond the transept, and then terminated each by an apse. In a third, these aisles were curved around the main apse, and relieved by smaller apsidal formations projecting from the curve. Here the semicircular apse was employed; there the polygonal shape was preferred, or the old rectangular preserved. The same freedom is found in the supports; sometimes columns still uphold the roof of the nave, sometimes pillars, or an alternation of both. The presence or absence of galleries afforded scope for infinite variety. This is what gives the Romanesque basilica not the least of its charms. No style excludes mere slavish copying of models more than this; none offered greater opportunities to the artistic imagination.
15. The Vaulted Church.
And yet the flat-roofed basilica was only a preparation for a still higher form—the vaulted church. It was probably less artistic dissatisfaction with the flat roof that brought about the change than a desire to secure protection against fire by substituting stone vaulting for a wooden roof. Medieval histories are full of accounts of devastating conflagrations in the principal churches. The change was made gradually; after architects had tried their hands at vaulting the side aisles, they came in 1097 to carry a vault over the broad nave of the cathedral of Spires. Cross-vaulting was here employed, thus distributing the weight of the vault among four supporting pillars. The example was soon followed in Mainz and Worms, in the abbey church of Laach, and elsewhere; and the advantages of this style were speedily recognized.
Besides the new possibility of reaching a strictly symmetrical disposition of the ground-plan, other changes came in. The great Romanesque churches were usually monastic or collegiate, and thus served not only for the worship of the laity in general but also for the daily offices of canons or monks. Consequently, in opposition to the natural arrangement of the building, the choir was cut off from the nave by a high stone screen in many of these churches, and served for the offices, a special altar for the worship of the laity being often erected at the east end of the nave. The rood-screen sometimes bore a lofty platform for reading the Scriptures to the congregation assembled in the nave, the lectorium. The connectin of the monastic or collegiate buildings with the church led to the laying out of cloisters, around a rectangular court, one side of which was frequently formed by the church.
16. Differences between the Ancient and Romanesque Basilica.
If the Romanesque basilica in its final form is compared with the ancient, a notable difference will be observed. The idea of length prevailed in the earlier conception; the eye was led on entering at once to the altar and the presbyterium behind it. The later style did not abandon the idea of length, but modified it greatly; the disposition of all spaces is conditioned by the principle of grouping. The place for the congregation is not a single unbroken space like the central division of the old basilica, but a group of small rectangular spaces; the eye does not go directly, but by a succession of steps, to the altar. So the small apses were grouped about the main apse, the side aisles about the nave, the place for the congregation with the place for the clergy. The same idea of grouping prevails equally in the exterior. It is upon this quality that the picturesque character of the Romanesque basilica and its real superiority over the ancient rests, for art requires rhythm rather than mere uniformity.
17. French Ecclesiastical Development.
If we turn to France, the story is different in a number of particulars. Instead of the gradual, almost logical development of Germany, we see there a bewildering richness of forms and motives. The tendency there also was from the flat roof to the vaulted; not only, the date of the change, however, varies in different parts of France—this was so also in Germany—but the final result also differs in different places. In the south, to render vaulting possible, they abandoned the path followed since the third century, and went back to the single hall, covering it with barrel-vaulting (cathedral of Orange), and went from that to a cruciform plan (Montmajour); or they retained the threefold division, but gave up the raising of the central section, making three barrel-vaulted sections of nearly equal height (St. Martin d’Ainay at Lyons, nave of St. Nazaire, Carcassonne). Besides barrel-vaulting the cupola was frequently employed, without, however, adopting the ground-plan of the centralized structures; in some places a long nave was covered with a succession of equal cupolas (Cahors, Angoulême). The north, however, held firmly to the basilica. As in Germany, the way to vaulting was prepared by the strengthening of the supports; columns gave way to round or square pillars. Cross-vaulting was frequently used, but not as exclusively as in Germany; the half-barrel was especially used in Burgundy (Cluny, Paray-le-Monial, Autun). Barrel-vaulting really answered more nearly to the original 269 plan, adapted as it is to the preservation of the impression of length. But since the ground-plan was generally similar to the German, the result was not altogether harmonious.
18. Introduction of the Gothic Style.
After the twelfth century, the predominance of the Romanesque basilica was first endangered and then altogether broken down by the introduction of the Gothic style. This name again, invented by the ignorant vanity of the Italians, is admittedly unsatisfactory, but there is no accepted substitute for it. The origin of the Gothic style may be traced in the simplest way to the effort to find the best manner of forming the cross-vaulting; but its universal acceptance throughout so large a part of Europe shows that it must have provided what the age was unconsciously seeking. The north of France is its birthplace. The preliminary steps were taken at Saint-Denis under Abbot Suger (1140-44); here first the walls lost all significance as supporting elements, and were only retained to enclose the space. This is really the essential point of the Gothic style—so to construct the vaulting, and so to support the superstructure by buttresses as to render the roof independent of the walls, and also, by the use of pointed arches, of the rectangular floor-space. Free disposition of space was won, but little use was made of it. The relation of the middle to the side aisles remained the same as in the Romanesque; so did the enrichment of the choir by radiating chapels, and the greater height of the nave. But while the main features of both ground-plan and elevation were still the same, all the individual parts were new and harmonious with each other. The introduction of the pointed arch in the vaulting led to its adoption for all arches. It has been said that in this style the vertical principle reached its extreme development; but this is misleading. The Gothic cathedral is essentially a structure of length, as much as the churches that went before it. The choir which terminates it is as much as ever the principal member, to which the arches of the nave lead the eye. The fact that in the facades of the French cathedrals the vertical lines are everywhere broken by horizontal elements can not be taken as an inconsistency—these most perfect specimens of Gothic art are not likely to have violated a Gothic principle. All we can say is that the development of height which was present in the Romanesque is continued in the Gothic. This bold soaring into the air was taken as symbolic of spiritual aspiration; it was a logical consequence which fitted the age of the schoolmen. Growing wealth and luxury also found their satisfaction in the increased beauty of the design.
19. Its Adoption in France and Germany.
The enthusiastic approval of the new style showed itself first in France. Simultaneously with Saint-Denis the rebuilding of the cathedral of Sens was begun; that of Notre Dame in Paris followed in 1163, that of Reims in 1210, and a few years later that of Amiens. In less than a century the most perfect works of the new style were completed or under way. From France it passed almost immediately across the Channel, though in England it took on a distinct character by the infusion of Norman elements. In Germany there was a period of transition. Certain elements were gradually introduced, as in the nave of Bamberg and the choir of Magdeburg. Its complete victory dates from the beginning of the thirteenth century; by the middle of that century was begun the cathedral of Cologne, of which it must at least be said that it carries out Gothic principles with an unsurpassed logical fulness. But this very completeness was a reason why the ambitious architects of those ages were unwilling to rest in it. Numerous variations were afterward introduced, many of which really led away from Gothic principles while they retained Gothic features. By the suppression of the triforium the wall regained its place; the abandonment of side aisles in other places, the construction of a single large hall, even sometimes with a flat roof, vindicated once more the claims of breadth as against height, in a way which seems to appeal to modern feeling, if one may judge from the praise bestowed upon these buildings of really very varying artistic value.
Italy never did more than play with the Gothic style. Unlike the northern architects, who looked upon it as a solution of a problem which had long puzzled them, the Italians merely imported it as a foreign fashion, partly under the influence of the mendicant orders. It opened new possibilities to the fancy of Italian architects, but they never made it their own.
20. No Present Single Predominant Type.
After the downfall of Gothic predominance, there is no longer any unity of development. The tendencies of the Renaissance led away from Romanesque and Gothic, rather in the direction of the early basilica; and one of its great services to ecclesiastical architecture is its conquest of the domed or circular church, displayed most fully in St. Peter’s at Rome. But the artists of this period also succeeded in using this form for parochial and smaller churches. It was one of the weakest points about Gothic that it was incapable of producing a masterpiece on a small scale. Here the Renaissance masters excelled it; in the Badia at Florence, San Giovanni delle Monache at Pistoia, and especially the Madonna di San Biagio at Montepulciano they gave evidence that greatness of line was possible with moderate dimensions. This was a distinct gain; but the further development is not pleasant to record, either on the Catholic or the Protestant side. The former, after the Counterreformation, is characterized by display, by a struggle after magnificence, and a loss of feeling for the beauty of simplicity and quiet grandeur. The development of general art in the baroco and rococo styles corresponded to this weakness, and produced the eighteenth century barbarities of vulgar ostentation. Modern styles have also had their influence on Protestant church-building, but no one form has attained a recognized mastery.
II. English Ecclesiastical Architecture:
Some able attempts have been made in recent years to limit the term “Gothic” to buildings of the highest and 270 most developed type, churches, in short, erected within the narrow confines of the Royal Domain of France. The contention is perhaps one of terms rather than of facts. At least it is certain that if the highest type of Gothic is that of the Royal Domain—which is unquestionably true—the art had a very wide distribution throughout Europe. This was brought about partly by the bands of traveling craftsmen, who journeyed from city to city, from country to country, and by the natural desire to build in the new style, which was copied wherever its beauties and structural qualities were known.
But while it is not difficult to trace the new style to its point of origin in the Royal Domain, it speedily lost its essentially French characteristics in taking root in new soil. The Gothic of the various countries of Europe exhibits distinctive characteristics of its own, which not only differentiate it from the Gothic of the Royal Domain, but give it a character and feeling, almost a form thoroughly national and individual. Of few countries is this more clearly the case than England, whose Gothic monuments are among the most splendid in Europe and exhibit some of the most remarkable manifestations of this beautiful style.
1. Romanesque Architecture.
Normandy Romanesque appeared in England before the Conquest. It began with the commencement of Westminster Abbey by Edward the Confessor in 1065. For the next hundred years the building art of England was a development of the art of Normandy, but richer, more complete, more varied, and with a much more numerous series of monuments. Most of the Anglo-Saxon churches were rebuilt completely, and many wholly new churches and foundations erected, many of them of great size.
2. Introduction of Gothic.
A new epoch in English architecture was occasioned by the introduction of the Cistercian Order about 1140. Between 1125 and the end of the twelfth century more than a hundred Cistercian abbeys were founded in England. Until about 1175 the larger share of the work was done by the monks and canons regular; at that date the secular canons became the leaders in building, and the English Gothic monuments were chiefly built by them. Hence the larger number of English Romanesque churches was due to the regular orders, while the Gothic churches are chiefly the work of the secular canons. Yet England saw no such wholesale destruction of Romanesque monuments as happened in France. There, many great Romanesque churches were completely rebuilt in the newer Gothic. In England, on the contrary, many extensive Romanesque parts were retained to which Gothic additions were made at various periods. The great churches of England, therefore, offer very much more variety in style than the great churches of France. And this is as true of the smaller churches as of the larger. Another interesting fact concerning English churches is that most of the greatest churches have either always been cathedral churches or are now cathedrals. A number of English bishops had their seats in monks’ churches, while many other monastic churches became cathedrals in the time of Henry VIII. or were made so later. The English cathedrals, therefore, comprise nearly all of the largest medieval churches remaining in England.
3. Three Periods.
The classification of English Gothic monuments by periods has been a subject of much study. The determinating feature is the window tracery, always an essential and characteristic element. In a general way three leading periods may be distinguished: Early English or Lancet, from 1175 or 1180 to 1280, indicated by simplicity, dignity, and purity of design; Decorated or Geometric, from 1280 to 1380, characterized by decorative richness and greater lightness of construction; Perpendicular, from 1380 into the sixteenth century, distinguished by fan-vaulting, four-centered arches, and tracery in which vertical and horizontal lines strongly predominate.
4. Characteristics of English Gothic.
Apart from the special features indicated by this classification, English Gothic had certain other general characteristics all of which helped materially in producing a characteristic style of building. Compared with the churches of France those of England were low and long. While the French builders delighted in structural experiments, and in the cathedral of Beauvais attempted a lightness and delicacy of construction which was never surpassed in Europe, those of England avoided such dangerous efforts. Their use of the flying buttress, a leading and typical feature of French Gothic, was of the slightest. But while they did not, because of this, build high vaults, they displayed in their vaulting a much greater variety and richness than did the French, whose vaults are, in a measure, of uniform character. The splendid English vaults are, in truth, one of the most notable characteristics of English Gothic architecture. The earliest English efforts at decorative vaulting are the ribbed vaults, with many ribs rising from a common point of origin, presenting many small faces easily filled in. The next stage shows minor ribs, called liernes, connecting the main ribs and forming star-shaped and other patterns. The final type, and the most complex and the most beautiful, was the fan-vault, in which the ribs are multiplied indefinitely; the vaults are elaborately paneled, and often supplied with pendants decorated with ribs. The structural significance of the vault is almost lost sight of in these enrichments, and the fan-vaulting is a splendid stone ceiling rather than a structural roof-covering as is the case with the purer earlier vaults or the more logical vaults of France.
The English builders of the medieval period appear to have always had a special predilection toward enriched and decorative ceilings. The most beautiful, even if the least structural form of stone roofing, was reached in their fan-vaults. Their wooden ceilings were equally notable. Many English open-timbered ceilings, with decorated trusses and paneled surfaces, are works of extraordinary beauty, and thoroughly characteristic of early and late English Gothic.271
5. The Smaller English Churches.
While the history of English Gothic architecture is largely written in its cathedrals, the great churches are very far from completing the record of English medieval building. The English parish church is a thoroughly interesting and highly characteristic form of building, often very mixed as to styles and dates, most generally small and low in proportions, but almost always beautiful in design and charmingly environed. Some few of them are churches of great size, but the larger number are of modest proportions. The royal and college chapels also constitute an important group of typical English churches. The royal chapels at Windsor and Westminster, King’s College Chapel at Cambridge, and Merton College Chapel at Oxford are among the most notable achievements of English Gothic architecture. Nor should the lesser monuments, the chapels within churches, the screens and tombs, be neglected by the student of English medieval architecture, for the architectural and sculptured parts of these minor structures often exhibit an exquisite delicacy of design and remarkable command of decorative forms.
6. Renaissance Architecture.
Of churches built in the Renaissance style England has but few. The most notable is St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. This great and splendid church is the masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren. It was begun in 1675 and the uppermost stone was placed on the lantern of the dome in 1710. The dome is one of the most impressive in Europe and ranks among the greatest domes of the world. Wren’s churches in the city of London are an important group of English churches. Designed in a characterized rendering of the classic style, they constitute the last original contribution to English church architecture.
7. Modern English Architecture.
Modern English church architecture is almost wholly a restudy of the architecture of the past. Up to within the last quarter of the nineteenth century this study, while often zealously made, was without real understanding of the nature of either Romanesque or Gothic architecture. Gothic models were copied with avidity, and the designers imagined that in copying Gothic forms, they were doing all that was necessary to obtain a genuinely Gothic building. But the spirit, the feeling, the truth of the older art was forgotten or ignored in the new. Even the old forms were unintelligently used and the spirit was completely wanting.
Toward the close of the nineteenth century, however, a group of London architects attacked the problem of church-building in a new way. The old forms were restudied and used as the old builders might have used them. A new spirit of reverence in church architecture was developed, and a number of notable churches built which illustrated a genuine mastery of Gothic forms and uses that make the best of recent English churches structures truly worthy of attention.
III. Ecclesiastical Architecture in America:
Ecclesiastical architecture in America is much more a reproductive architecture than in any other country. Alone of all the great countries of modern times the United States has no historic architecture of its own. Great Britain and the Continent abound in historic examples of building of every sort, but America has nothing that is old save what it itself has created. The earliest architecture of America was necessarily purely constructive, that is to say, without artistic intent or purpose. As the colonies developed, more attention was given to the building of churches and meeting-houses, and some of the structures erected in this period have genuine interest and real merit. But colonial architecture was but the copying of English forms, in most cases by untrained men who hardly understood what they were copying. The interest which attaches to these buildings, which were confined to New England, the eastern, and some of the southern States, is often very real, but they offer little material for the modern architect, who, even at his best, is scarcely more than a copier or a modifier.
The later history of church architecture in America affords little occasion for congratulation. Being without historic models of their own, American architects have been forced to use the models of Europe as a basis for their church designs. For many years this translation of architectural materials was accomplished with little credit to all concerned. As in England, American architects copied forms without understanding their meaning, with results little removed from the commonplace. In the last few years a more enlightened conception of the meaning and purpose of church architecture has taken root among American architects, and some few churches have been built worthy of our time and the purpose to which Christian structures are dedicated.
Bibliography: Dictionaries: A. Cates, Dictionary of Architecture, 22 parts, London, 1852-92 (a monumental work); Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française, 10 vols., Paris, 1854-69; W. J. and G. A. Audsley, Dictionary of Architectural and Allied Arts, 10 vols., London, 1880-83; J. W. Mollett, Dictionary of . . . Art and Architecture, ib. 1883; J. Gwilt, Encyclopedia of Architecture, ib. 1888; P. Planat, Encyclopédie de l’architecture, 6 vols., Paris, 1886-92 (a standard); H. Louppen, Dictionnaire d’architecture, Paris, 1891; Russell Sturgis, Dictionary of Architecture and Building, 3 vols., New York, 1901.
History of architecture: C. J. Bunsen, Die Basiliken des christlichen Roms, mit Atlas, 2 vols., Munich, 1842; A. A. Lenoir, Architecture monastique, 2 vols., Paris, 1852-56; J. A. Messmer, Ursprung, Entwickelung und Bedeutung der Basilica, Leipsic, 1854; C. von Lützow, Die Meisterwerke der Kirchenbaukunst, Leipsic, 1862; E. Hübsch, Monuments de l’architecture chrétienne, Paris, 1866; J. Fergusson, History of Architecture in all Countries, i., ii., iv., 4 vols., London, 1874-76 (the standard work); C. E. Norton, Studies of Church Buildings in the Middle Ages, New York, 1880; T. R. Smith and J. Slater, Classic and Early Christian Architecture, London, 1882; G. Dehio and G. von Bezold, Die kirchliche Baukunst des Abendlandes, 2 vols. text, 8 vols. plates, Stuttgart, 1884; G. B. Brown, From Schola to Cathedral, Edinburgh, 1886 (on the relation of architecture to the life of the church); W. Lübke, Geschichte der Architektur, Leipsic, 1886; A. Gosset, Évolution historique de la construction des églises chrétiennes, Paris, 1887; Great Cathedrals of the World, 100 photographs, Boston, 1888; J. Ruskin, Stones of Venice, 3 vols., London, 1886; idem, Seven Lamps of Architecture, London, 1888; H. Holzinger, Die altchristliche Architektur, Stuttgart, 1889; G. Clausse, Basiliques et mosaiques chrétiennes, 2 vols., Paris, 1893; Der Kirchenbau des Protestantismus, Berlin, 1893; J. T. Perry, Chronology of Mediæval and Renaissance Architecture, London, 1893 (careful and trustworthy); R. P. 272 Spiers, The Orders of Architecture, Greek, Roman, Italian, London, 1893; A. D. F. Hamlin, History of Architecture, New York, 1896; A. Choisy, Histoire de l’architecture, 2 vols., Paris, 1899; J. C. Ayer, Rise and Development of Christian Archæology, Milwaukee, 1902; W. Durandus, Symbolism of Churches and Church Ornaments, notes by J. M. Neale and B. Webb, London, 1906.
Architecture in various lands: Great Britain, England. G. A. Poole, History of Architecture in England, London, 1848; J. F. Hunnewell, England’s Chronicle in Stone, London, 1887; Cathedrals, Abbeys and Churches of England and Wales, 2 vols., London, 1891; J. A. Gotch and W. T. Brown, Architecture of the Renaissance in England, 2 vols., London, 1891-94 (accurate, deals with the period 1560-1630); W. J. Loftie, Inigo Jones and Wren; the Rise and Decline of Modern Architecture in England, London, 1893; M. G. van Rensselær, English Cathedrals, New York, 1893; T. S. Robertson, Progress of Art in English Church Architecture, London, 1898; R. Blomfield, Renaissance Architecture in England, London, 1901; Cathedral Churches of England, New York, 1901; H. Muthesius, Die neuere kirchliche Baukunst in England, Berlin, 1901; E. S. Prior, Gothic Art in England, London 1900; idem, Cathedral Builders in England, ib. 1905; F. Bond, English Cathedrals, ib. 1903; idem, Gothic Architecture in England, ib. 1906.
Scotland: D. MacGibbon and T. Ross, Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland . . . to the Seventeenth Century, 3 vols., New York, 1896-97; M. E. L. Addis, Cathedrals and Abbeys of Presbyterian Scotland, Philadelphia, 1901.
Ireland: G. Petrie, Ecclesiastical Architecture in Ireland Anterior to the Norman Invasion, Dublin, 1845 (rich in illustrations); R. R. Bras, Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland, Dublin, 1874; M. Stokes, Early Christian Architecture in Ireland, London, 1878.
France: E. E. Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française, ut sup.; H. A. Revoil, Architecture romane du midi de la France, 3 vols., Paris, 1873; J. F. Hunnewell, Historical Monuments of France, Boston, 1884; C. Enlart, Monuments religieux de l’architecture romane et de transition dans la région picarde, Paris, 1895; A. St. Paul, Histoire monumentale de la France, Paris, 1895; F. Miltoun, Cathedrals of France, 2 vols., Boston, 1903-04.
Germany: W. Lübke, Ecclesiastical Art in Germany, Edinburgh, 1870; H. Otto, Handbuch der kirchlichen Kunst-architektur des deutschen Mittelalters, 2 vols., Leipsic, 1883-85; Th. Kutschmann, Romanesque Architecture and Ornamentik in Germany, New York, 1901.
Italy: Waring and McQuoid, Examples of Architectural Art in Italy and Spain, London, 1850; E. A. Freeman, Historical and Architectural Sketches, London, 1876, chiefly on Italy; O. Nothes, Die Baukunst des Mittelalters in Italien, Jena, 1884; J. Ruskin, Examples of the Architecture of Venice, London, 1887 and often; W. J. Anderson, Architecture of the Renaissance in Italy, New York 1901; C. A. Cummings, History of Architecture in Italy from Constantine to . . . the Renaissance, Boston, 1901; C. Salvatore, Italian Architecture During the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Century, Boston, 1904; C. H. Moore, Character of Renaissance Architecture, London, 1905.
Other lands: Owen Jones, Plans . . . of the Alhambra, 2 vols., London, 1842-45, 100 plates; C. Rudy, The Cathedrals of Northern Spain, London, 1906; A. F. Calvert, Alhambra: Mohammedan Architecture, ib. 1906; A. Heales, Churches of Gottland, London, 1890; idem, Architecture of the Churches of Denmark, ib. 1892; M. Schuyler, American Architecture, New York, 1892.
Gothic architecture: J. K. Colling, Details of Gothic Architecture, 2 vols., London, 1852-56, republished New York, 1900 (from measurements of twelfth to fourteenth century examples, 190 lithographs); Gothic Ornament, 3 vols., London, 1855; G. E. Street, Gothic Architecture in Spain and in Italy, 2 vols., London, 1869-74; M. H. Bloxam, Principles of Gothic Ecclesiastical Architecture, i., ii., London, 1882; L. Gonse, L’Art gothique, Paris, 1890; E. Corroyer, L’Architecture gothique, Paris, 1892, Eng. transl., London, 1893; C. Englart, Origines françaises de l’architecture gothique en ltalie, Paris, 1894; C. H. Moore, Development and Character of Gothic Architecture, London, 1899.
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