The word Gothic has come to mean the dark and the morbid. In reality itís much more than that. It was a Medieval Art movement that took over Europe for more than 300 yrs. Its roots can be traced to France where it was born out of the Romanesque period in the mid-12th century. By the late 14th century, it had evolved towards a more secular and natural style.
Europe, in this period, was trying to put the memory of the "dark ages" behind it and move on to an era of promise, full of confidence, abundance and prosperity. The change in paintings became visible about a century after the first of the Gothic cathedrals arose.
Early Gothic Art
Early Gothic art was characterised by Christian iconography. Christian scluptures on the walls of cathredals are the earliest examples of this art form . Typological Christian art showed the stories of the New Testament and the Old Testament side by side. Lives of Saints and their expidition around the Dark World were imaginatively depicted. Religious icons were made more approachable by humanising them- Virgin Mary changed from the Byzantine iconic form to a more human and affectionate mother, cuddling and playing with the infant Jesus.
Later Gothic Art
By the turn of the 14th century Gothic art evolved into a more secular art form. With new vistas opening up to the Christian world, outside influence in every aspect of life was inescapable. The unconscious fusion of Italian and Northern European art had led to the development of an innovative International Gothic Style. As people began to travel across the continent and share ideas and techniques, Gothic art too spread its wings until artists involved in International Gothic style could be found in France, Italy, England, Germany, Austria, and Bohemia.
The later Gothic style painting was a strange hybrid style Ėit was dark yet uplifting, its beauty was in its immaculately naturalistic style. The heady combination of traditional Gothic style and Renaissance art created an art form, which was both unique and technically sound. Most Gothic Paintings were oils on Canvas. These paintings were true reflection of the changing face of Europe, the change from the dark Middle Ages to a confident age full of promise.
Significant Gothic Painters, listed chronologically
- Bonaventura Berlinghieri1215-1242 Italian Painter
- Simone Martini 1285-1344 Italian Painter
- Segna di Buonaventure 1298-1331 Italian Painter
- Altichiero 1330-1384 Italian Painter
From being an art from which was supposed to dispell the gloom to the dark ages to being interpreted as a dark and morbid art form itself , the journey of Gothic Art is indeed remarkable.