Gothic is a style of art and architecture that emerged towards the end of the High Middle Ages and became famous throughout Europe. The style had a substantial effect on the development of architecture in the region and was most often used in religious buildings, such as churches and cathedrals. The present essay will attempt to describe the Gothic style in architecture and to compare it to other architectural styles, including Romanesque, Classical, Egyptian, and Ancient Near East architectures.
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The gothic style was developed by Abbot Suger and was greatly influenced by religion. Key features of the Gothic style include “the pointed arch, the rib vault, buttresses (especially arched flying buttresses) and window tracery” (“Gothic Architecture”). Buildings in Gothic style can often be distinguished by sharp forms, large windows, and greater height of structures. There are also certain elements of decor that are characteristic of the Gothic style. According to Kleiner, in the later Middle Ages, the facades of Gothic buildings often featured sculptured tympanums and stained-glass windows (xxvi). Buildings in the Gothic style are often spacious on the inside, with high ceilings and tall, pointed arches. Most of the features described above were new to European architecture, which makes it easy to contrast the Gothic style with other movements in architecture.
For instance, the main difference between the Gothic style and the Classical style in architecture is the simplicity of buildings and their elements. As shown by Catwright, most Greek buildings featured simple designs and showed harmony in form and structure between various design elements (“Greek Architecture”). Similarly, Egyptian architecture is characterized by simple geometric forms with some engraving or inscriptions used for decoration (Mark). Gothic architecture, on the other hand, is more complicated and includes more design features, from sculptures to stained glass windows and ornaments.
Large windows are an essential feature of Gothic architecture that can also help to distinguish it from the Romanesque style. Romanesque buildings were made during the time of transition from wood to stone, which meant that the size of entrances and windows was limited for increased stability (“Romanesque Architecture”). Gothic style, in contrast, is characterized by tall arches, large entrances, and tall windows. Besides, Romanesque architecture can be characterized by extensive and colorful interior decoration (“Romanesque Architecture”). This feature did not find its way into the Gothic style, which has significantly less color in its interior design and rarely includes paintings.
Another branch of Classical architecture that can be contrasted with the Gothic style in Ancient Roman architecture. According to Catwright, Roman architects built upon the Classical style conventions introduced by the Greeks but added new features (“Roman Architecture”). In particular, Ancient Roman architecture is famous for rounded arches, the basilican structure of interiors, and simple building shapes. Gothic design, in contrast, is characterized by the complexity of form, combining rounded and pointed structures for a greater effect.
Overall, the present paper attempted to offer a description of the Gothic style in architecture, as well as to establish its distinguishing features. Although there are some elements of the style that were influenced by previous designs (for example, the basilican structure, arches, carvings, and so on), Gothic architecture has many features that distinguish it from other movements in architecture. In particular, Gothic buildings are characterized by the complexity of form and decorations, as well as their exterior structure.
Cartwright, Mark. “Roman Architecture.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, 2018, Web.
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“Greek Architecture.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. 2013, Web.
“Gothic Architecture.” Victoria and Albert Museum, Web.
Kleiner, Fred S., editor. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective. 15th ed., vol. 1, Wadsworth, 2018.
Mark, Joshua J. “Ancient Egyptian Architecture.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. 2016, Web.
“Romanesque Architecture.” Durham World Heritage, Web.