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Professors Moore and Frothingham on “Gothic Architecture” Essay

Sir :-Your rejoinder (vol. vi. pp. 478-486) to my reply to your criticism of my book calls for some further remarks from me which I herewith submit. I. Quicherat’s classification of Romanesque monuments, though it may, as I have said, have its value for some purposes, does not commend itself to me for the reason that it does not take note of the fact that an archi- tectural style is always developed in some particular locality where the conditions have conspired to produce it. These conditions have never been the same in different localities. There is nothing in architecture cor- responding to the apparently spontaneous development, in different places, of the same natural flora and fauna. In assuming that there is such a development Quicherat seems to me to make a fundamental mistake.

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A style may have offshoots: but in broad classification these offshoots properly belong to the regions where they originated. The exotic types of build- ing found in any given locality are, however, rarely pure in style. They are naturally more or less modified by the local conditions so as to become unfit for strict classification with the styles from which they are sprung. Hence the geographical division, though it may not afford the means of marking the limitations of schools with absolute precision, seems to me the most natural and convenient. And I observe that you, as well as Quicherat himself, are unable to dispense with it: you speak, for instance, (p. 480) of the ” schools of Burgundy, Poitou, Perigord, Auvergne, the Loire, etc.” II. In this discussion (following the thesis advanced by Quicherat) you speak of Romanesque architecture as if it were a homogeneous style charac- terized by the use of vaulting. On page 480 you now qualify this by the admission that the early Norman Romanesque was, as I have said, gener- ally unvaulted. But with this exception you still assert that ” Romanesque architecture is as essentially a vaulted style as is the Gothic.” Now is this so ?

How is it with the Tuscan Romanesque-with buildings like San Miniato at Florence and the Cathedral of Pisa? How is it with the Lom- bard Romanesque? How is it with the large class of early Roma buildings in Germany-numerous examples of which work of Dehio and Bezold to which you refer? And large number of timber-roofed monuments of northern of those of Normandy-with buildings like St. Remi Montier en Der, Le Mans and many others? With unvaulted buildings before us, how can it be said ” is essentially a vaulted style from its very beginnings The vaulted Romanesque is mainly limited to Southern offshoots in Spain. It is of two principal varieties-barrel-vault (of either round or pointed section) is employs the dome. Neither of these varieties contained growth, and from them, therefore, there was no turally, survivals of ancient modes of building which that differ in unessential ways from ancient forms; the ancient inert principle of construction.

We do new style until the inert principle is thrown aside de-France. But the northern varieties of Romanesque, in the twelfth century, sometimes covered with the germs of this new style. It is these northern exclusively, northwestern) varieties, therefore, with properly concerned in my book-which is not a treatise but on Gothic, architecture. Of these northern varieties those of Normandy and the Ile-de-France because they and progressive systems than most others. In fact except that of Burgundy, contributed much toward Gothic style. In the passage (p. 7 of my book), which that I do not limit my remarks to the northern Romanesque, noticed that I am concerned with a general statement, that place, speak of the style in a comprehensive being concerned with the evolution of Gothic, I Romanesque only out of which it grew. III. Having now, as I hope you will see, justified regard to Romanesque, and my exclusive reference alone calling for treatment in connection with my third section relating to the use of the term Gothic if my main proposition be apprehended my restriction seen to be necessary) and take up the question relating You say (section Iv), referring to Siena and Orvieto, churches the structural arches are not pointed but round, forms as windows being pointed; and you yourself arches in apertures do not much differ structurally shows the inconvenience ofsubstituting the term pointed has a wooden roof to its nave and structural round arches: there are not it any structural pointed elements whatever. Siena is certainly vaulted, but. the vaults differ from those usually found in Tuscan and northern churches in being flatter and more oblong.

In both buildings the effect is made quite different by the closeness, greater length, and slenderness of the piers and columns, a point in which they more nearly approach the basilical Roman- esque churches of Tuscany. There is more reason to call the churches Sicily pointed than to give this name to the Cathedral of Orvieto. In fact these two churches, while having hardly anything in common, differ in almost every way from the pointed monastic churches with which you com- pare them, and these differences affect the vaulting, supports, forms and proportions.” Now I think it is incorrect to speak of ” structural ” arches in the nave of Orvieto, because there is no vaulting in the aisles any more than over the nave. The form of an arch- in a mere arcade has no more structural consequence than it has in a window. This part of the building would have no more structurally pointed character ifits arcades were pointed instead of round-as they are, for instance, in Santa Croce at Florence. The mere forms and proportions of this church and of Siena, to which you refer, are of small structural importance, and, though in some respects (mainly in the rectangular plans of the bays) unusual, they are not, I believe, un- exampled in some other Italian edifices. You fail, therefore, to disprove my statement that these two buildings differ little structurally from other Italian pointed monuments. They are like the rest in exhibiting no Gothic principles.

As to there being more reason to call the churches of Sicily pointed than to give this name to the Cathedral of Orvieto, you seem to forget that I have not given it this name. I merely use the name by which it is (interchangeably with the name Gothic) commonly designated; and to which it is as much entitled as are most other Italian buildings of the period. For although the arcade of the nave has round arches, the most of the external openings are pointed; while its vaulted choir and transept’ approach more nearly to Gothic than is the case with Italian pointed build- ings generally. You say ” the point of special importance, however, is the general state- ment (p. 181) which forms the starting-point of your study, namely, that the pointed church of S. Andrea at Vercelli built in 1219 is an exceptional instance, and that pointed design did not begin to spread in Italy until about 1250.” I do not regard this as a point of special importance: for, whatever a more thorough investigation of early monuments in Italy than I have yet had occasion to make might show, it would be a matter of small consequence in connection with my subject, because there was never, proper sense, any Gothic movement whatever in Italy. to be so, the beginnings of the use of the pointed arch subject that has not especially interested me. In my no more than to show the comparative tardiness of any ment toward pointed forms, and to illustrate the absence ples in the characteristic buildings which were erected greatest activity in pointed design. So that even granting have been an earlier use of the pointed arch than I not materially affect my chief argument. How far the ated in your list may tend to establish your position with use I am not prepared positively to say. With many I am unacquainted: but I will readily admit that in show (I do not say that I think they do show) that made use of the pointed arch before 1250.

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I do not, can be proved that there was any general movement use before that time. The buildings on your list of which I know anything mixed character. Their pointed features are sometimes, dral Asti, incongruous with their general design: and probable that these features were in many, if not in all, However this may be, it is certain that neither the Cistercian buildings ever, as you affirm, ” exactly followed French models of the Ile-de-France. Take, for example, the With exception of its capitals and bases (which are indeed lar to the corresponding members in the early French a Burgundian Romanesque structure with pointed round arches in the arcades, and in the ribs of the compare your photograph (vol. vi. pl. III) of its nave of the nave of Vezelay, you can hardly fail to see are substantially identical. The rectangular plan partments, the heavy transverse rib, the absence of ing of the longitudinal and transverse ribs from the same ment which, as I endeavor to show in my book, is fundamentally to the principle of Gothic), the composition of the vault supports, the massive walls, and the small round-openings, are all so nearly the same that both buildings been erected from the same set of drawings. Even vaulting shafts by the abacus mouldings, and the triforium-same in both instances.” Externally Fossanova is esque.3

The pointed arches of its west faCade seem to be alterations; and the great wheel window, wholly unrelated in style, as it is, to the rest of the edifice, looks to me like an insertion. The use of the pointed arch in Fossanova is not a constructional use such as was made of it by the Gothic architects of France. The round arch might just as well have been used here, as it was used in Vezelay its prototype. Nobody thinks of calling the nave of Vezelay a Gothic struc- ture, and there is no more reason why Fossanova should be so called. It is not at all Gothic, and no amount of influence of such a building could be the means of introducing Gothic architecture into Italy. On this account, though I recognize the interest attaching on other grounds to such a group of buildings as you bring forward, and shall look with interest for the fuller accounts of them which you promise us, I cannot regard them as having any material bearing upon what I have said in my book. I have endeavored, my dear sir, to present these points in a true light, and I trust that in so far as I have done so I may win your assent.

Sir :-It is with reluctance that I continue the discussion which you have reopened, as I think it has entered upon a phase where further elucidation may become wearisome to our readers. I shall therefore seek to be brief, and shall omit any reference to your criticism of Quicherat’s classification as it would lead me too far. I have stated from the beginning that I believed the geographical additions should not be abolished but be used in subordi- nation to those that are structural. II. In regard to Romanesque style it is evident that you have failed to grasp my meaning. It is hardly necessary to remind anyone but a tyro of the classes of unvaulted buildings built between 1000 and 1200, during what is broadly termed the Romanesque period: prove what you imagine. They may be, in my classes: (1) those which are constructionally the Latin basilica; and (2) those which, as I remarked (following Quicherat), were influenced in their introduction of vaulting. To the first class belongs, Romanesque.” It is a misnomer to call such Florence and the Cathedral of Pisa Romanesque be built between 1000 and 1200.

Except for basilicas, of the same class as those of Rome, come next to Lombard Romanesque: here buildings erected or restored after 1000 have, not but vaults: at Pavia, S. Michele, S. Pietro in Borgo, S. Teodoro, S. Lanfranco: at Milan, S. Pietro e Paolo; the Cathedrals of Parma, Modena, rara, etc. There are hardly any unvaulted Lombard In citing numerous unvaulted churches of Northern as further invalidating the fundamental influence esque, you seem to ignore a remark of mine looked, and which I will here quote (vol. vI, the eleventh century which we find to have wooden roof are merely survivals or reversals vatism and the ill-success, though imperfect knowledge of many of the earlier attempts at vaulting. But cases, the wooden roof is preserved, we find the elements brought in by the vaulting system believe this statement is as clear as any I The Romanesque grouped pier, invented on account vaulting, the different members of which were ning arches of the nave, the sub-arches of its the vaults are found in unvaulted constructions great church of St. Stephen at Caen, the most important churches, was built on this plan. Its vaults were period in the xII century: but as M. Ruprich-(Arch. Norm., pp. 63, 85), the supports of its piers which had absolutely no meaning and no roof, but were copied from some unknown (perhaps cross-vaults. If then, the thickness of walls and solids to voids, the proportions of the interior tion and mouldings brought about by the consequent to be cut in these walls-if all this was radically buildings, as it certainly was, does it not constitute group of results? And if they all derive from one cause, who can doubt that this cause is the essential element in the style ? And who can deny that the vaulting is this cause ? So, in asserting that ” Romanesque is essentially a vaulted style from its very beginnings,” I use the term essentially in the meaning of internally, in principle, in essence; and the bare fact that a church is unvaulted does not prevent the influence of the vault from being dominant even in this case. We now come to your positive ktatement in regard to the character and limits of vaulted Romanesque; that it employs the barrel-vault and the dome; that it retains the ancient inert principle of construction and that it is mainly limited to Southern France, with offshoots in Spain.

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I can hardly do anything more than deny these propositions in toto, as a full demonstra- tion would take a long article. I shall only make the following counter- assertions that can be easily verified by a consultation of authorities. (1) Vaulted Romanesque is as wide-spread as the boundaries of western archi- tectural activity. (2) It used the cross-vault as well as the dome and tunnel-vault. (3) All of its varieties do not retain but set aside the inert principle of construction for that of balanced construction. It is an error found also in your paper read lately before the Convention of the American Institute of Architects, to claim that the principle of balance was first introduced, in the history of architecture, by the Gothic architects. The principle of balance lies at the basis of Byzantine architecture, which is thus fundamentally distinguished from the Roman. The demonstration of this fact will be found, for example, in Choisy, L’Art de Bdtir chez les Byzantins, where the system of internal buttresses, of interacting domes and vaults, is illustrated in detail. More imperfectly is the same principle represented in the various forms of Romanesque architecture, but its existence alone ensured the stability of vaulted constructions. The buttress-strips, the abutting vaults over side-aisles and galleries in Romanesque are certainly the result of the application of a different law from that which governed the inert Roman concrete.

While no one will deny that only in the Gothic is the principle fully carried out, it is easy to prove, that the principle was known and applied, and that there is therefore a far closer alliance between Romanesque and Gothic than between Romanesque and Roman, which you wish to classify under one head. III. In regard to Siena and Orvieto, after seeking to demonstrate that there is nothing structural at all about Orvieto you wish to fortify your contention that these two buildings differ little structurally from other Italian pointed buildings by the statement that it is so because “they are like the rest in exhibiting no Gothic principles “! On the same principle I may be allowed to point out what astonishing similarity the temple of Luxor, the Taj Mahal, the mosque of Amru at Cairo all bear to Santa Croce at Florence–because they are like it ciples. It is such a method of reasoning and investigate the proofs which I brought forward tecture in Italy, that have shown me the uselessness I gave a list of over sixty monuments, embodying erected in Italy before 1250: such a list cannot, equalled for England or Germany. In each case of which could be easily verified. In a large pointed arch used but the pointed ribbed cross-added the assurance, in more than half the backed by photographs. But though acknowledging with these monuments, you appear to doubt verify my assertions and are willing merely they may show that the Italians occasionally arch before 1250,” adding that you do not, proved that there was any general movement before that time.

I can only express the desire speedily arise for you to become acquainted with It is not always easy to determine how many stitute a movement. Apparently two, when you pass from Morienval to St. Denis in the I will not follow you in your discussion way, so thorough a scholar -as Dehio has just of early Gothic buildings, thus confirming cussion you forget one essential thing. I am general use of Gothic architecture but of pointed of your vocabulary. Therefore your arguments conforms to true Gothic principles are quite be in place only in case you were controverting on Cistercian architecture in Italy. As to whether of the Cistercian builders that ” of the principles can hardly be said ever to have shown understanding,” they would have come with more force from study of Cistercian architecture. It is most nova could not be the means of introducing If put to it, you would doubtless confess that as much Gothic as any building in Italy. Then never introduced ? Of course not, according the pointed style that was introduced, on which to grant that Fossanova could exercise an influence. continue the publication of Italian Cistercian be substantially modified. Why not get rid of this continual confusion between Gothic and pointed: it is so artificial that you appear to lose the run of it yourself. As you have digressed to my Cistercian papers, I will close by a refer- ence to your paper read Oct. 24, 1891, before the Institute of Architects, on the Antecedents of Gothic Architecture, simply to take note of a few facts.

The statement is made that only two writers-Viollet-le-Duc and Quicherat-have recognized that the Gothic style is essentially structural. To this list should be added Anthyme Saint Paul (Hist. Mon. de la France, 1884), Gilbert Scott (Lectures on Mediceval Architecture), Adamy (Archi- tektonik) and several other writers whom the latter cites. You assert that the first true instance of grouped supports destined to carry vaulting and em- brace several stories occur in the Lombard style of the xI century and that the fountain-head is S. Michele at Pavia. It is to be noted, however, (1) that S. Ambrogio at Milan (and not S. Michele) is generally regarded as the earliest church (Dartein, Viollet-le-Duc, Ruprich-Robert); (2) that the date of their piers is a matter of great dispute: they are placed as early as the Ix and x centuries or as late as the xII and are consequently not very safe; (3) that the vaults of S. Michele are often dated after the fire at the close of the xII century and that it is therefore impossible to state, as you do, that they show the earliest known use of groin and longitudinal ribs; (4) the original vaulting compartments in S. Michele are not square, as you say, but oblong-an important fact.

In regard to the monuments of primeval Gothic in the Ile-de-France before S. Denis in 1140, in your book and in your paper, one only is men- tioned,-Morienval, that earliest of Frankish works in which the pointed ribbed cross-vault appears in its most primitive form. But I would call your attention to the chapter on Le Gothique Rudimentaire in Gonse’s volume L’Art Gothique. Here are mentioned and described some twenty- five buildings which illustrate every step of the gradual development of Gothic vaulting from Morienval to St. Denis. It is a most complete and charming piece of historical demonstration, and supplies the material so much desired and so long sought in vain by writers on the origins of Gothic architecture. Another paper, in which a few such buildings are mentioned, is that by Von Bezold in the Zeitschriftfiir Bauwesen, 1891, p. 162, entitled Die Entstehung und Ausbildung der Gothischen Baukunst in Frankr.

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Professors Moore and Frothingham on "Gothic Architecture" Essay
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Sir :-Your rejoinder (vol. vi. pp. 478-486) to my reply to your criticism of my book calls for some further remarks from me which I herewith submit. I. Quicherat's classification of Romanesque monuments, though it may, as I have said, have its value for some purposes, does not commend itself to me for the reason that it does not take note of the fact that an archi- tectural style is always developed in some particular locality where the conditions have conspired t

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