After our trip to Burgundy this spring I wrote a series of posts on Romanesque architecture, currently my favorite style. (Confession: my favorite architectural style changes every two or three years and has ranged from Greek Revival to Art Nouveau. I think my preference is as much a reflection of where I live physically as where I'm 'at' emotionally.)
But before I came to appreciate the subtleties of Romanesque I loved Gothic architecture for its dramatic, light-filled spaces. I even spent a hellish year in a doctoral program at the University of Florida so I could understand the structural and architectural innovations that produced some of the most spectacular buildings of all time. (Unfortunately, my aversion to Gainesville overwhelmed my love of Gothic.)
|Church of Saint Ouen, Rouen|
Someone asked me recently where the name “gothic” came from, and it's a great question. What on earth does this magnificent architecture have to do with Dracula and black lipstick? The simple answer is, “Absolutely nothing.” The name given to an architectural style is seldom used at the time of construction. Instead, it gets applied decades or centuries later when, with hindsight, the nuances of the style become clear. So in the 13th century abbots weren’t demanding a huge cathedral, “designed in that lovely new Gothic style, please.” They might, however, have asked for “something in the French style” since Gothic architecture was born near Paris and became the national style of France.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking at the history and development of the Gothic style and will share some of my favorite examples.