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Romanesque art
Romanesque art

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The art of medieval Europe :

This is the very first artistic style that spread across all of Europe in the early centuries of the Middle-Ages; first beginning in France in the end of the 11 th century and then reaching the rest of the continent. This came as a real artistic revival after almost millennia of consecutive conquests and wars that allowed very little of the prosperity and patronage that are essential to the sustenance of art. This is the century of the First Crusades to Jerusalem and a time in which artists traveled the width and breadth of Europe , influencing the style of each royal court and every church along the way.

Church-sponsored art:

Romanesque was mainly Christian in nature and theme and the Romanesque church architecture stands till this day as testament to the huge effort and craftsmanship that are the hallmarks of this period. The term is derived from an architectural term that indicated the break from the Gothic style of architecture and a return to Roman influences. As the style spread, more and more churches and cathedrals were built according to Romanesque design, characterized by interlocking structural buttresses and curving arches. This fabulous architecture then encouraged the need for church sculpture to adorn it and a new wave of artistic creation was borne of this. Arched openings and doorways were made of carved wood and columns were ornamented with religious motifs. Most famous of all is the invention of the “tympanum” archways of the central entrances;-huge structures that were directly above the doors themselves, usually segmented into three parts, all of them either carved wood, plaster sculptures or paneled in rare, horribly expensive colored glass. The tympanum is shaped like a pointed arch and beside the outer panel of each door it continues down to frame the entire doorway.

The main characteristics of Romanesque art:

In the early church sculpture there is an obviously abstract tendency and the general propensity for simple compositions and very linear, elongated designs. There is very little sign of figurative imagery or any effort towards naturalistic depiction. Most of all, all these inherently Romanesque characteristics were meant to inspire the viewer to devout, religiously inspired awe and fear of the Creator and of course, of His representation here on earth in the body of the Holy Church . Many of the works are meant to remind you what will happen if you neglect your religious devotion- scenes of hellish creatures and tormented bodies abound. There are pious images of supplicants praying humbly for God's grace side by side with images of the foulest sins committed by man. By the mid 13 th century these motifs would begin to change and the early signs of the Byzantine era. Some of the most famous Romanesque art is to be seen in the Benedictine Monastery of Saint-Pierre in Cluny , France , in the church-monastery in the city of Moissac , near Toulouse and in the Church-Monastery of Saint Savin.. In Saint-Pierre there is also still rare evidence of Romanesque painting; the meager remains of what had once been a church totally bedecked with color. Vibrant patterns and colors were used on almost every aspect of original church; every pillar, every wall and supporting column had been decorated, there had been paintings on every wall in rich blues, greens and reds.

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