صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

The flamboyant builders, however, carried the ornamentation of their vaults to even greater lengths, adorning the keystones with great hanging pendants. These pendants were also doubtless imported from England, where the feature had been developed to meet the exigencies of design in fan vaulting, although here, too, the Gothic builders had taken a few steps in the same direction. From the earliest times of the transition it had been the custom to carve with especial elaboration the keystone of the diagonal ribs, a member whose highly important structural function in joining and supporting the two arches was thus appropriately called to the attention of the eye. In the XIV century this ornament was often developed into an elaborate excrescence, often projecting some inches below the stone itself; and in the early flamboyant period the keystone was regularly decorated with the escutcheon of the donors of the edifice, carved with great elaboration and often unduly large.

Such keystones probably suggested the use of the English pendant in a position that feature was never meant to occupy, and one which deprived it of the little justification for existence that it had ever possessed. These great carved stones, hanging down a foot or so from the surface of the vault and supported by a trick of construction, are not only absolutely unstructural, but are without any compensating beauty of design. The best of the English pendants, in the Henry VII chapel of Westminster, or at Christ Church, Oxford, although much overpraised by the unthinking tourist, are entirely reprehensible from an architectural and even from an esthetic standpoint; they yet possess a certain fineness of detail, and a sense of composition that raises them far above the debased French imitations.

The coarseness and vulgarity of these French pendants may be judged from the vaults of St. Pierre of Caen (Ill. 259) or of the crossing of St. Étienne-du-Mont (Ill. 283). Not content with one of these monstrosities to each vault, the flamboyant builders proceeded to increase the number, placing pendant at each intersection of the multiple ribs.

Happily such aberrations are a symptom of the last deca

dence of the style, and mar comparatively few monuments. Pendants are extremely rare before the XVI century; the church of Villenaux, dedicated in 1449, contains, I believe, the earliest example of their use. The aisle vaults of Pont-l'Évêque (Calvados) are furnished with pendants which must date from c. 1490, and from this moment the feature is of not infrequent

Occurrence.

In other directions the flamboyant style preserved essentially unchanged the main features of Gothic design. The triforium was sometimes glazed; sometimes was retained in essentially its old form -as at Notre Dame of Alençon (Ill. 284) or Caudebec-en-Caux (Ill. 273); sometimes was reduced to a balustrade as at St. Pierre of Coutances (Ill. 285); or sometimes was altogether omitted as at St. Germain of Amiens (Ill. 282) or St. Étienne-du-Mont (Ill. 283). Of all these forms the glazed triforium is the least frequent, being rarely used except in constructions built in continuation of an unfinished rayonnant building.

Such varied triforium designs are merely a manifestation of a new spirit of eclecticism which is conspicuous in flamboyant art. The individual architect is everywhere coming into prominence; his tastes, his preferences, his caprices, rather than the contemporary style, govern the design. Progress in the old collective sense is being gradually abandoned; a given feature is used now here, now there in a purely arbitrary manner, and it is no longer possible to tell the approximate date of a building from a glance at the style. In the archaistic designs of the tower of Lisieux, - a monument built in the XVI century in conscious imitation of the style of the transition—or of the choir of Notre Dame-de-l'Épine, we are face to face with the Individual the Individual in the Renaissance and modern sense of the word thoroughly out of sympathy with the spirit of his times and trying in vain to struggle for higher and better things. Such a state of affairs in the XIII century would be unthinkable. Similarly in the naves of St. Ouen of Rouen, Troyes, Châlons-sur-Marne, and Meaux there are present features absolutely at variance with the prevailing tendencies of flamboyant design, features which it is impossible to explain

[graphic][merged small]

altogether as having been introduced to harmonize with the earlier portions of these buildings. In Normandy, in the full flamboyant period, country churches like Villedieu-les-Poêles

- doubtless from reasons of economy - continued to be supplied with lancet windows without tracery. In such eclectic tendencies apparent everywhere in flamboyant design as in so much else, this final phase of medieval art was the prophet of the Renaissance and modern styles. The growing independence of the master builders was the last step in the evolution of the modern architect.

as at

Into the domain of ornament, flamboyant art introduced much that was new and original. The profiles are characterized by the use of prismatic forms and sharp edges; the Gothic three-quarter rounds are omitted altogether (Ill. 281) or are given an angular character by the addition of a fillet on the outer edge. The projecting portions of the archivolts Abbeville (Ill. 281) - consist of sharp edges formed by the intersection of two receding members, whose profiles are often of double curvature, analogous to the lines of the ogee arch or flowing tracery. The mouldings have been made much smaller and much more numerous; for a few strong lines have been substituted many lighter ones.

The vertical profile of the bases remains essentially unchanged from the XIV century; two tori divided by a scotia are still placed on a very much elongated plinth. Yet the profiles of scotia and tori are no longer simple, but have become subtle lines often of surpassing beauty, and occasionally even of double curvature. The distinguishing feature of the flamboyant base, however, is the interpenetration of its members, for the bases of the projecting mouldings placed at a higher level penetrate the main bases of the pier. Notwithstanding the somewhat over-complex character of this motive, it is often executed with such technical skill as to produce results of rare grace and charm (Ill. 281).

In the treatment of the ornamental flora and fauna, flamboyant architecture simply pursued the way pointed out by the XIV century. Since capitals were largely eliminated, the opportunities for decoration in leaf-forms were much reduced,

« السابقةمتابعة »