Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Gothic Painting

Rose Window, Notre Dame The north rose window of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (1240-1250) was built by Jean de Chelles. It is designed in the Rayonnant Gothic style, named for the radiating spokes in this type of window. The center circle depicts the Virgin and Child, surrounded by figures of prophets. The second circle shows 32 Old Testament kings, and the outer circle depicts 32 high priests and patriarchs.Bridgeman Art Library, London/New York

Christ Entering Jerusalem Pietro Lorenzetti and his brother, Ambrogio, were leading figures in the 14th-century Italian Sienese school of painting. This early 14th-century fresco from the lower Church of San Francesco in Assisi, Italy shows Christ entering the city of Jerusalem.Scala/Art Resource, NY

During the early Gothic period, as cathedral structure gave more emphasis to windows, stained glass occupied a more prominent role in the arts than did manuscript illumination. Lay artists now established workshops in Paris and other major centers,... producing elaborately illuminated manuscripts for royal patrons. Paintings of secular subjects also survive from this period, notably in Italy. Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted frescoes from 1338 to 1339 in the Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall) in Siena, portraying 14th-century city and country life, and in the hall's Council Chamber, Simone Martini painted an equestrian portrait in 1328 of a local military hero, depicting his encampment against a landscape background. See Gothic Art.

Stained Glass, windows composed of small panels of dyed and painted glass, held in strips of cast lead and mounted in a metal framework. The art achieved its zenith in Gothic building, most notably in France from about 1130 to 1330.


Two types of glass were used in Gothic stained glass—pot glass and flashed glass. Pot glass was of uniform color, which was achieved by adding oxides of iron (red), copper (green), or cobalt (blue) to the raw materials of glass, a transparent mixture of potash (later soda) and limestone. Flashed glass was made to prevent opaqueness by fusing a layer of deep color to a thicker layer of clear glass while both were still hot. In painting and mosaics, light is reflected off the surface, whereas light is transmitted through translucent stained glass; for this reason, the art of making stained glass is known as painting with light.

The artist began by sketching the window's design. This was enlarged to the actual size of the window on the cartoon, which was drawn with lead or tin point on a wooden board or table that was coated with chalk or white paint; late Gothic and Renaissance cartoons were made on parchment, cloth, paper, or cardboard. The lines representing the lead supports were drawn in black. Next, colored glass sheets were laid on a table and cut with an iron tool heated to incandescence. Lines of clothing, facial features, and small designs were drawn on the individual pieces with a black or dark brown enamel-like paint made of powdered glass, metallic salts such as iron and copper oxides, other minerals, and liquid. These lines were usually drawn on the inner side of the glass and were fused to the stained glass by firing it at a low temperature. The malleable double lead strips, shaped like an H in cross section in order to grasp the edges of the glass on both sides, were then cut and shaped. Units of lead and glass were fixed to the window's larger iron frame, or armature—an integral part of the design in early windows.

Gothic Art and Architecture, religious and secular buildings, sculpture, stained glass, and illuminated manuscripts and other decorative arts produced in Europe during the latter part of the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century). Gothic art began to be produced in France about 1140, spreading to the rest of Europe during the following century. The Gothic Age ended with the advent of the Renaissance in Italy about the beginning of the 15th century, although Gothic art and architecture continued in the rest of Europe through most of the 15th century, and in some regions of northern Europe into the 16th century. Originally the word Gothic was used by Italian Renaissance writers as a derogatory term for all art and architecture of the Middle Ages, which they regarded as comparable to the works of barbarian Goths. Since then the term Gothic has been restricted to the last major medieval period, immediately following the Romanesque. The Gothic Age is now considered one of Europe’s outstanding artistic eras.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


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