Flamboyant Gothic Architecture (1375-1500)
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The Flamboyant style of Gothic architecture was a flowery Gothic style which flourished in France during the period 1350-1500, after which it was overtaken by forms of Renaissance architecture - such as those used in the completion of Florence Cathedral and the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi - imported from Italy. It evolved out of the preceding idiom of Rayonnant Gothic architecture (the English Decorated style) and its equivalent in English Gothic architecture is the Perpendicular style, while in German Gothic art its name is Sondergotik ("special Gothic"). A Spanish version of the Flamboyant style was adopted in Spain and Portugal during the 15th century. Flamboyant architectural designs are recognizable by an ever-greater focus on decoration and the use of S-curved tracery.
The fundamental characteristic of Flamboyant Gothic architecture is the embellishment of technical and decorative elements, for it generated absolutely no important structural inventions. The decorative interweaving of ornate tracery forms - already identifiable in the upper part of the west facade of Rouen Cathedral, datable to 1370 - with patterns of double curving, undulating lines that imitate flames (Old French: flambe) gives the style its name. Flamboyant Gothic abandoned the visual highlighting of lines of force along frameworks - the principle that until then had regulated the main phases in Gothic design - in favour of new, completely particular formal criteria. Preference was now given to plant forms or similar shapes, along with similar naturalistic motifs drawn from Gothic illuminated manuscripts and decorative Gothic sculpture of the period. The Flamboyant language found its most successful expression in facades, on which it released with exuberant freedom curving and twisting lines, swirling curvilinear and pointed tracery, canopied niches, richly decorated splayed portals, steep gables, and crockets, all of them positioned freely in space, mirroring and overlapping others behind them to create an overall effect of dynamic movement in which the individual elements play roles that vary according to the viewers point of view. The result of the whole is a scenically mobile vision, a dense multilayered language that tales every opportunity to present the richest and most imaginative decorative themes.
The same style saw the tendency in interiors to devise new and curious solutions for the attachments of ribs, vaults, and columns, whereas interest in devising innovative planar and typological-functional solutions diminished. The pronounced freedom of creativity and the surprising effects that it tended to achieve meant an approach to design that was adopted in different regions and was applied to different kinds of works, but it was most often employed in architecture promoted by the court or by members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. See also: International Gothic Art (c.1375-1450).
Church of St Maclou, Rouen (West Facade)
Hotel de Cluny, Paris (1485-98)
Palace of the Duc de Berry, Poitiers
Other important examples of Flamboyant Gothic include the west facade of Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes (1379-1480); the Cathedral Basilica of Moulins (late 14th century) (except for its Neo-Gothic nave); and the Basilica of Notre Dame in the village of L'Epine, near Verdun, which is regarded as a masterpiece of Flamboyant design.
Medieval Christian Art (600-1200)
Romanesque Architecture (c.800-1200)
Romanesque Sculpture (c.1000-1200)
English Gothic Sculpture (1150-1250)
German Gothic Sculpture (1150-1400)
For more about French architecture in the Gothic era, see: Homepage.
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