lunes, 9 de junio de 2008

Gothic Sculpture

Although Gothic followed Romanesque chronologically, there is a break in all Art orders and sculpture is not an exception. From the Romanesque hieratic sculpture evolved to the naturalism. Things are depicted as they are, not with a symbolic value. Gestures and attitudes became human and reflect the worries of any person.

This humanization and location in time and space can be seen even if with opposite signs in the two most representative images of Gothic sculpture. The Virgin with the Son appears as a happy and lovely mother who pays attention to her Child. It is easy to discover smiles in their faces. On the contrary, Christ appears in pain, as a normal man facing his death.

The gothic sculpture characters in that humanization process, abandoned vertical, symmetric and hieratic positions to adopt others more mannerist and with great sense of realism. The same as other artistic styles, gothic had an evolution from the first classicism of the 13th century where they pursue of the serene beauty of the idealised naturalism to a mannerism that can be seen in the stylisation and elongation of the images with bended gestures. This is characteristic in the 14th century. Finally, during the last period it was coincident with the beginnings of the Renaissance with aboundance of sculptures of kings, bourgeoisies and aristocrats.
During the classical period it continues with the monumental sculpture heir of the Romanesque, mainly in the façades and particularly in the jambs, archivolts and trumeaus.
In the façades the distribution changed: the tympanum continues being the place for Christ in majesty but now it is a more human person. Sometimes the Virgin occupies that central position. The last judgement almost disappear and in its place, in different bands, the Virgin or Christ life’s episodes are depicted. Jambs continue being the places for saints and the trumeau for Christ, the Virgin or any other saint. In the archivolts it is common to find natural elements such as plants and leaves or human depictions. The same rules are followed in the cloisters.
A new sculptoric field is that of the sepulchres, that can be of two kinds: linked to the wall, below an arch or exempt, as a funerary bed, separated from the wall, where the characters are depicted laying or praying. It is common to find this kind of sculptures in chapels inside the churches.
Wood gained importance as a sculpture matter, mainly for the chairs of the choirs, the altarpieces and pulpits.

It depicts mainly religious subjects, being the most common:
· Christ life: all the Passion scenes, mainly in the Cross. He appears with the crown, the purity cloth, three nails because the two feet are together, abundant injuries. The body looks to have weight and falls down, transmitting an image of pain.
· Virgin: She acquired a leading role. She is depicted mainly with the Child, as a mother, young, pretty, idealised. She shows great humanity.
· Hagiographies: There are scenes of the lives of saints, with a special interest for martyrdoms.
· Fantastic animals: The new ones are the monsters used for the gargoyles.

In France the main works are those related with the great cathedrals’ portals, as are the cases of the Royal Portal in Chartres, the Golden Door in Amiens, Reims. In all of them the tympanums are important but the most significative images are those of the jambs, very human and showing communication one with another.

At the end of the Gothic there is an important sculptor: Claus Sluter, who worked for the Duke of Borgoña. He is the best representative of the anguish of the late middle Ages. One of his most famous works is that of the Champmol Cartuja where he realised the tomb of the duke mentioned above and other important works. All of them are famous due to their pathetic expressions.

In Germany an important work is that of Bamberg Cathedral, with the Portal of the Princess, and the portraits of the nobility in Nuremberg Cathedral.

In Italy Gothic sculpture is characterised by its classicism that never lost during the middle ages. Among the better-known artists is Nicola Pisano, who worked in Pisa’s Baptistery.

In Spain the sculpture received French influence. The best examples are the portals of the cathedrals. Leon’s portals are considered to be a good example of the gothic sculptural programmes. During 14th century sculpture began its decadence and there are regional differences.

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