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Aisle  

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Alexander Nagel

[Fr. postautel, retable; Ger. Altar, Altaraufsatz, Altarbild, Altarretabel, Altarrückwand, Retabel; It. ancona, dossale, pala (d’altare); Sp. retablo]

An image-bearing structure set on the rear part of the altar (see Altar, §II), abutting the back of the altarblock, or set behind the altar in such a way as to be visually joined with the altar when viewed from a distance. It is also sometimes called a retable, following the medieval term retrotabulum [retabulum, retrotabularium].

The altarpiece was never officially prescribed by the Church, but it did perform a prescribed function alternatively carried out by a simple inscription on the altarblock: to declare to which saint or mystery the altar was dedicated. In fact, the altarpiece did more than merely identify the altar; its form and content evoked the mystery or personage whose cult was celebrated at the altar. This original and lasting function influenced the many forms taken by the altarpiece throughout its history. Since the altarpiece was not prescribed by the Church, its form varied enormously. For this reason, it is often impossible, and historically inaccurate, to draw neat distinctions between the altarpiece and other elements occasionally associated with the altar apparatus. For example, movable statues, often of the Virgin and Child, were occasionally placed on altars according to ritual needs, and at those times fulfilled the function of the altarpiece....

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Stephen Heywood

[alternation]

Term applied to medieval ecclesiastical architecture and referring to the deliberate use of differing pier forms in an arcade. Alternation is found in aisled churches throughout western Europe from the 11th to the 14th century. Its purpose is to articulate internal elevations through the subdivision of the main arcades and in some instances to emphasize certain liturgically important areas. In its simplest form the alternating system consists of the use of both the column (cylindrical) and the pier (square or rectangular in section). In antiquity these two types of support had specific functions that were almost always observed: the column supported the horizontal entablature and the pier supported the arch. By the Middle Ages this rule had been abandoned, and both types of support were used for arcades.

The earliest examples of alternation occur in the eastern Roman Empire during the 5th and 6th centuries ad. In most instances its use may be attributed to structural function, as at the church of ...

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Stephen Heywood

The extension of the aisles around the sanctuary of a major aisled church to form a passage or walkway. The ambulatory is found throughout western Europe, especially in France, and was particularly popular between the 11th and 13th centuries. It is often provided with radiating chapels that project from its exterior face. Its function was to provide separate access to the radiating chapels and perhaps originally to facilitate the circulation of pilgrims past relics. The ambulatory with radiating chapels was an important innovation of the Romanesque period and is a particularly potent illustration of the style’s preoccupation with the articulation of structure (see Romanesque, §II).

The origins of the ambulatory are found in Carolingian outer crypts (see Crypt). A good example from England is the simple, barrel-vaulted corridor that runs around the apse at All Saints’, Brixworth (Northants), probably built during the 9th century (for illustration ...

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Apse  

Semicircular or polygonal vaulted space, usually at the end of a basilica nave (see Church, fig.).

G. Binding: ‘Abside’, Enciclopedia dell’arte medievale, 1 (Rome, 1991), pp. 75–82 S. Ghigonetto: Storia dell’architettura medievale: Una tipologia riscoperta: Le chiese a doppia-abside: Forme e funzioni (Paris, 2000) S. de Blaauw: ‘L’abside nella terminologia architettonica del Liber pontificalis’,...

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R. K. Morris

[Bellflower]

Globular shaped carving, typically of three stylized leaves clasping a small ball. The most distinctive ornament of English Decorated architecture (c. 1300–c. 1400; see Decorated style), ballflower is commonly employed in rows set in hollow mouldings, varying in diameter from 125 mm on towers to 30 mm on tombs and fittings. True ballflower should be distinguished from other types of globular ornament found occasionally in Late Romanesque and Early Gothic architecture in England and Normandy. Ballflower (sometimes ‘bellflower’) is an antiquarian term, suggesting analogies with a flower bud, or possibly with small bells, as on an animal collar. On the façade of Notre-Dame, Paris, is an early use of true ballflower (c. 1250) in which the ornament is evolved from stylized foliage crockets. Some examples in England are mixed with carved foliage tendrils or flowers (e.g. St Albans Cathedral, Lady chapel, c. 1320). Visually ballflower dissipates the lines of architectural forms, as exemplified by its popularity on great church towers (e.g. the cathedrals of ...

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Francis Woodman

A roof boss (Fr. bosse: ‘lump’, ‘knop’) is the block, or keystone, at the intersection of ribs in a rib vault (see Vault; for illustration see Section.). Particularly favoured in European medieval architecture, unnecessarily large blocks were used as a field for sculptural decoration, which both concealed the collision of the different ribs and their mouldings and provided additional dead-weight to assist in countering the thrusts engendered by the vaults themselves. Some Late Gothic English bosses are extremely large; those in the nave of Winchester Cathedral (c. 1440) and in King’s College Chapel (1513–15), Cambridge, weigh several tonnes each.

The first bosses consisted simply of the junction of the converging ribs. The earliest use of a central keystone in a rib vault occurs in the transept aisles at Winchester Cathedral (after 1107). A single block forms the apex of both intersecting arches, with a shoulder to receive each rib. Earlier rib vaults (e.g. ...

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William W. Clark

Mass of masonry or brickwork projecting perpendicularly from a wall to give additional support to that wall along its length or at the corners.

A buttress built either as a part of the wall (engaged) or against it.

Two buttresses meeting at an angle of 90°, usually on a corner or an acute angle of a building (see fig. (a)). This kind of buttressing was common throughout the Middle Ages, usually in towers; good examples include the west towers of Chartres Cathedral (c. 1140s; see Chartres, §I, 1) and that of Holy Cross (rebuilt 1519, rest. 1872), Great Ponton, Lincs.

A buttress that encases a corner or an acute angle on a building (see fig. (b)). It is common in ashlar construction beginning in the ...

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Upper interior surface of a room. Many different types of ceiling are found in Islamic architecture, including Coffering, Artesonado, and Muqarnas. Only fragments survive from a few wooden ceilings in the early hypostyle mosques of the central and western Islamic lands. Beams from the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (8th century; see Jerusalem §II 1., (iv)) are carved with a great variety of vegetal, geometric, and architectural motifs. The Mosque of Ibn Tulun (879) in Cairo (see Cairo §III 2.) had a flat wooden ceiling with a narrow wooden frieze nailed to the top of the arcades supporting the roof. Measuring almost 2 km Córdoba §3, (i) in length, the frieze was inscribed with verses from the Koran. The wooden ceiling from the Great Mosque of Córdoba (see) as extended in the 960s and 980s was dismantled in the early 18th century and later replaced. The ceiling comprised closely placed transverse beams supporting planks, the whole protected by a gabled roof covered with tile to allow an insulating layer of air between ceiling and roof to keep the interior cool. More than 50 fragments of the carved and painted beams from the original ceiling have survived in museums (e.g., Copenhagen, Davids Saml. 2/...

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Chancel  

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Chantry  

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Chevet  

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Choir  

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Crocket  

John Thomas

[Fr. croc, crochet: ‘hook’]

Decorative device used in Gothic art and architecture, attached to a capital or a gable, an arch, piece of tracery or coping. The term was used in medieval England in the forms crockytt and crockett. English writers of the Gothic Revival period, however, suggested a connection with the crook, noting that some of the earliest English examples take the form of the pastoral crosier, but this is probably a misinterpretation.

Crocket capitals developed during the period of transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture from the mid-12th century, with small curled, twisted fronds of vegetation projecting from the body of the capital, in a form suggesting the much older use of curved floral decoration in the Corinthian order (see Orders, architectural, §I, 1, (iii)). After c. 1250 the crocket emerged as a curve of foliage that twisted or hooked back, turning the opposite way to the arch or gable out of which it rose, reminding Gwilt of ‘the buds and boughs of trees in the spring season’. In the course of its development, the crocket lost its hook-shape and began to curve upwards rather than downwards, becoming richer and more florid. Thus after ...

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Crypt  

Stephen Heywood

Subsidiary vaulted room normally below the main floor level but not necessarily wholly subterranean. The term is normally used of church architecture. Crypts are found throughout western Europe, until the 11th century associated with funerary rites and in particular with the cult of relics, simulating the form of a tomb if not an actual one. In some instances, churches were built around the existing tomb of a saint or a holy place. The most important example of this is the Anastasis Rotunda on Golgotha built by Constantine the Great around the tomb of Christ, now the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (see Jerusalem, §II, 2). The function of early crypts was to keep relics secure and to allow the circulation of pilgrims. As the cult of relics and its liturgical implications grew, the crypt tended to lose its specific function as reliquary. Nevertheless crypts continued to be built, simply providing extra space for altars and chapels. Their size increased, and in some cases they lay beneath the entire eastern arm of a major church, for example Archbishop ...

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