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RENAISSANCE GOTHIC: PICTURES OF GEOMETRY AND NARRATIVES OF ORNAMENT

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Abstract:

The profuse Gothic ornament of the early sixteenth century has often been judged typical of Gothic decline, in accordance with the long-standing dictates of modernism. Yet ornament offered a means of refurbishing this traditional mode, which was then being challenged by alternative Italian practice. In central Europe especially, architects inscribed conspicuous geometrical patterns on the interior of their churches – on elegantly figured vaults and on the balustrades to galleries and ecclesiastical furnishings. Framed and isolated for regard, these were pictures of geometry that could be received as utterances in that ideal mathematical language of divine conception and creation. Furthermore, designers often arranged geometrical shapes in sequences that invited a narrative reading, imbuing the forms with a sense of direction and purpose. Late Gothic ornament thus provided a commentary on religious authority and mediated the experience of sacred structures.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8365.2006.00491.x

Affiliations: University of Toronto

Publication date: 2006-02-01

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