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Tim Mowl

Architectural style, predominantly used for castles and churches built in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, which was based on English Romanesque. The Norman Revival is usually treated as a minor strand of the Gothic Revival—part of that interest in medieval styles of building that ran parallel with, but counter to, classical architecture; yet the earliest buildings in a round-arched medieval style pre-date by a decade accepted pioneers of the Gothic Revival, such as Clearwell Castle (c. 1728), Glos. Later, between 1820 and 1850, the use of Norman forms and details seriously rivalled Gothic ones in civil, domestic and ecclesiastical architecture, a phase that has its continental parallel in the German Rundbogenstil. The Norman Revival was a more self-conscious movement than the Gothic Revival, for while the use of Gothic forms had never quite died out in Britain, the round-arched medievalism of the Norman style had been extinct as a building tradition since ...


Ilene H. Forsyth

French Romanesque collegiate church in Burgundy. Despite unfortunate over-restoration of its once elegant façade, enlargement of its interior by several Gothic chapels and an 18th-century choir, and the fact that no document allows a close dating, the well-preserved nave of this 12th-century collegiate church still presents a Romanesque masterpiece. The nave’s three-part elevation evokes the architectural paradigm of the lost abbey at Cluny while its carved capitals rival those at nearby St Lazare, Autun. Its 14th-century choir-stalls have also survived.

The narratives of its justly famous capitals have been carved with novel, uniquely humanized interpretations of both religious themes, such as the Prophet Balaam, the Flight into Egypt, the First Temptation, the Visit to the Tomb, and the Suicide of Judas; and subjects that mix everyday life and fantasy, such as nude boys betting on cock-fighting, hybrid beasts, lush foliage metamorphosing into leaf-men, and human faces wearing flower bonnets. The use of the drill has allowed striking virtuosity in the carving, creating pools of dark against light for highly expressive purposes. Decorative devices (foliage, whorls, wheels) have been added to enhance narrative and theatrical effects. For example, irregular wheels suggest the donkey’s jerky, docile gait; stiff foliage and baulky legs mimic the obtuse Balaam. The angular thrust inherent in the shape of jutting corners of capitals has been subtly exploited: figures carved at these critical junctures project into the viewer’s space, for example, on the ...