Understanding Romanesque Art

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  • Topic: Romanesque architecture, Sculpture, Art
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  • Published : October 29, 2012
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Beryl Sola
Art History 101-36
29 October 2011
Romanesque Art
Romanesque art refers to the style prevalent in Western Europe from the tenth to twelfth century. This style peaked in France, Britain, German fiefdoms, Spain and Italy between 1075 AD and 1125 AD. Romanesque art was a fusion between Roman, Byzantine and German traditions and was all about architectural design, decorative styles, stained glass, paintings and illuminated manuscripts. This was a period of religious pilgrimages and also the Age of the Crusades, when western Christians sought to liberate the Holy Lands. Romanesque art developed as Christianity spread to all parts of Europe. During this time frame there was an unprecedented growth in the number of churches being built. “The architects of this era emulated ancient Roman structural devices, utilizing arches, barrel vaults, and groin vaults in their massive, solid stone edifices” (Unit V: Romanesque Art). These buildings typically had very few windows, causing them to have dark interiors. Churches were intricately adorned with sculptures and paintings and stained glass. Sculptured animal forms, plants and biblical scenes played an important part in the details of Romanesque buildings. Carvers created magnificent stone reliefs and figural works. Some of these were located at the entrance ways through which pilgrims passed on their way into the building to see the relics held within. “The churches of the Romanesque period began to cater to the pilgrimaging public who were mostly illiterate instead of the previous monastic community” (Lohr). As the first millennium drew to a close, the dominant influence and the promoter of art and culture had become the church. In the Romanesque period architecture dominated the arts. Monumental stone sculpture was revived since its dormancy 500 years earlier. “The “mute” facades used in early medieval buildings were transformed by Romanesque sculptors into speaking facades with richly carved portals...
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