Comparison of Two Historical Art Periods

Citizens of the time period wanted striking, rich looking churches to represent their success and wealth, also leading to Gothic style. Common Gothic features include the pointed arch, the rib vault, buttresses, stained glass, and buildings that were shaped in the form of a cross. In addition, many cathedrals were heavily decorated with gargoyles, griffins, dragons, and other beastly, scary looking creatures. The Gothic style of architecture prevailed for around four hundred years. Over time Gothic developed into many similar styles.

Enthusiasm for Gothic began to wane in the 1400’s, first in central Italy where it had never been very popular. However, in northern Europe Gothic style remained into the 16th century and beyond. (“Gothic Architecture”, 2013) There is sub culture today in the 21st century that consider themselves “Goth”. They wear dark clothes and make up and typically have a somber, morose attitude. The Renaissance lasted from the late thirteenth to the early seventeenth century following the Gothic period. The Renaissance architectural style placed importance on symmetrical proportion[->0]s, defined shapes, and the consistency of parts.

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Renaissance architects veered away from using religion as the sole inspiration for their works. When building churches, Renaissance architects did no use the shape of a cross as a theme. Instead, they based them on a circle. They believed ancient mathematicians used circles to create geometric perfection, so they used the circle to represent the perfection they saw in God. When constructing their homes, wealthy people of the Renaissance often adopted a Roman style, building their homes around a courtyard, often with a water feature.

Simple, symmetrical decorations were used for the sides of buildings, and some structures featured columns like those of ancient temples. Architects of this time returned to the simple, proportionate look of the Roman/Classical period. They went in the opposite direction away from the chaotic, detailed look of the Gothic period. (“Architecture in Renaissance Italy”, 2013) There are numerous differences between Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Gothic style architecture was elaborate with a lot of sculptures, flying figures and pointed arches.

Renaissances’ exterior is plain and simple. Buildings were square in shape with a predictable pattern of pillars and rounded arches. Gothic buildings were very high tall. Renaissance buildings were lower and wider. Gothic windows were large with stained glass. In comparison, Renaissance windows were usually smaller without stained glass. Differences in Middle Age and Renaissance art including architecture can be attributed to the cultures of the two time periods. The culture was completely different from the Middle Ages where Gothic style originated, to the Renaissance.

The Middle Ages was a dark and desperate culture. The arts of this time period expressed many morbid and dark thoughts and views. The Middle Ages witnessed a reduction in religion and faith. The Renaissance was energized and more optimistic. People saw themselves as something better. The Middle Ages was a morbid time where the Renaissance was a time of renewal and revelation. In the Middle Ages The Black Plague hit the population. Because of a declining population, other aspects of life were affected negatively such as agriculture and politics.

The Renaissance, however, saw a turn around for Europe. There were new beginnings in the government and the life of it’s citizens. There was a major culture shift from the 14th to the 16th century. In the Middle Ages, many people were suffering from disease and starvation. It was not a stable time for Europe. The Hundred Year’s War compounded their problems. Europeans lost faith in the church resulting in a decline of religious faiths. There were a large amount of Popes going through the Catholic Church during that time known as the Great Schism.

The Schism lasted for forty years and resulted from financial mismanagement in the church. The Renaissance was an opportunity to reform European society. Humanism became a common philosophy. Individualism and education were now important. Life did not revolve around religion and the church had less power. More people saw themselves as a greater being than God. The influence of Renaissance Architecture on the rest of the world was significant. There are many government buildings in North American that are modeled after the classical, symmetrical lines of the Renaissance period.

Modern architects still study and try to reproduce the beauty, simplicity, and magnificence of Renaissance architecture. The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a well known example from the Gothic era. The Notre Dame has been added to and worked on many times since it was first built in the twelfth century, but it still retains Gothic features like gargoyles. The building was not originally designed to include flying buttresses but after building started, the walls grew higher and higher and stress fractures began to form because they could not support the weight of the growing structure.

The cathedral’s architects built supports around the outside walls. Many small statues were placed around the outside. Included in these are the famous gargoyles. (“Notre Dame de Paris”, 2013) A famous building designed by Renaissance architecture is the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. It is the largest church and dome in the world. The dome of St. Peter’s was designed by Michelangelo. The dome is four hundred and fifty feet high and one hundred and thirty nine feet in diameter. It is a beloved building by many and gets a large amount of visitors every year. “St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome” 2010) The Basilica of Saint Peter deviated from the Notre Dame Cathedral and architecture of the Gothic era with it’s less ornate structure and rounded dome, representative of the Renaissance era in which it was built. The dramatic, pointed style of the Notre Dame Cathedral had been abandoned by the architects that built The Basilica of Saint Peter. Cleaner lines and a more classic style were embraced by Renaissance architects. References (2010). St. peter’s basilica, rome .

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