Monday, 11 December 2017

Leaving Cert Art History NOTES on Romanesque

Monday 11th Dec.

Please take down the following on ROMANESQUE into your notes copies...

Romanesque Art & Architecture……

Because of the dominant role of the Church, most Romanesque art is religious.  Architecture was the main focus of the period and the 11th and 12th centuries saw a frenzy of church building activity.  Many examples of Romanesque architecture can be seen today around Europe, but some of the finest are detailed below.

Cluny Abbey
· Cluny Abbey in east central France is of paramount importance to Romanesque Art.  By the end of the 11th century Cluny had become extremely influential and powerful and was famous far and wide for its splendor and great wealth.
· The Cluniac order placed great emphasis on elaborate religious services.  Singing and music were essential parts of its liturgy and the vaulting system was designed to enhance sound. 
· It also had an extremely high regard for art, particularly architectural sculpture, using it both as ornament and as a means of spreading the message of Christianity.
· Accounts describe not only the splendor of its beautiful carved capitals but also its arches, windows and cornices, which were surrounded by sculptured ornament.
·  In addition, there would certainly have been murals, carpets, huge chandeliers, figures of saints, golden liturgical vestments and gleaming ornaments set with precious stones.
· In terms of splendor, no castle or palace of the period would have compared with this abbey in any way because rulers had to invest most of their money in soldiers and military equipment and also because the church forbade the faithful to accumulate wealth or display it ostentatiously.

The demolition of Cluny
The church and its surrounding monastic buildings were destroyed, so the only remaining part of the abbey church is the majestic clocher de L’Eau – Benite (Holy Water Belfry)

Churches in the pilgrimage route
The style of building first explored at Cluny soon became common throughout France, Spain, Italy and England.
The churches built along each of the four main pilgrimage routes in France were remarkably similar in design.

Characteristics of a typical Romanesque Church:
· Blocky in shape – they had a solid geometric appearance.
· Rounded arches – Roman arches were used extensively for doors, windows, on the towers and even ornamental arcades on walls.
· Stone roofs – The Romanesque building boom went hand in hand with a number of technological innovations, but the supreme achievement was the development of the stone vault, which not only insulated against fire but also greatly improved acoustics (sound quality)
· Massive walls – A huge amount of stone was needed to construct high stone roofs, and in order to carry this weight, walls and pillars  had to be strong and thick.
· Interiors – They had a dark and solemn aspect because there were few window openings (which would have weakened the walls)
· Roman basilica – Early Christian churches were based on the roman basilica rather than roman temple.  The basilica served a general community purpose in Roman towns and this model was chosen over the round Roman temples, which had a pagan association.  Romanesque builders continued using this model.
· Cruciform in shape – Romanesque churches were designed to cater for large crowds of pilgrims.  Crosswire transepts broke up the long nave and pilgrims could walk about the entire church without interrupting the monastic liturgy.  An ambulatory of walkway around the back of the altar facilitated viewing the relics.
· Radiating chapels – A ring of smaller chapels called radiating chapels extended from the ambulatory and each one of these contained a minor relic.
· Lighting – A tower or cupula (dome) on the roof over the central crossing of the transept and nave lit up this central area and had the effect of drawing pilgrims towards the altar and choir.
· Cut stone – Many churches were built with ashlar masonry that is, even, regularly cut blocks of stone, suitable for monumental architecture.

Stone vaulting was absolutely necessary in Romanesque churches because fire was a constant problem and there had been many catastrophes.  Romanesque masons were able to vault the entire width of the church using the Roman model, but the exact technical knowledge developed by the Romans had been lost.  As problems developed, architects could only solve them by experimentation.
· Barrel vaulting – was the first method tried, but the heavy stones pressed out as well as down, causing the semi circular arches to flatten, the walls to push outwards and the roof to collapse.  This problem is known as outward thrust.
· Broken barrel vaulting was an improvement as it used pointed transverse arches, but the problem of outward thrust remained, although it look longer to develop.
· Groin vaulting – was a further experiment in finding a solution.  This consisted of two barrel vaults intersecting at right angles.  For a while it seems as if this approach provided a solution, but the problem of outward thrust continued to plague builders for a century after.

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