CULTURE: ART. FROM THE FRANCO TO THE ROMANESQUE PERIOD
The conversion of the Franks to Catholicism and the spread of monastic orders brought about an artistic and cultural awakening in France which found its full affirmation with the Carolingian Renaissance (mid-8th-mid-9th century). The first large Carolingian church was built in Franco-western territory, the abbey of Saint-Denis (754-775), probably equipped with a western body (Westwerk) consisting of two scalar towers and a central tower with the loggia to house the sovereign. The Westwerk, which is the most original element of Carolingian architecture, also featured the abbey church of Centula (Saint-Riquier, 790-799) and the cathedrals of Reims (816-862) and Auxerre (875-887). Two opposing choirs, on the early Christian model, had the cathedral of Besançon (early 9th century) and the abbey of Saint-Remi in Reims (consecrated in 852). The extension of the choir is linked to the development of the crypts, annular (Saint-Denis), galleries (Saint-Médard of Soissons) or aisles (Saint-Germain of Auxerre, Saint-Philibert of Grandlieu). The crypts and western bodies, with their barrel and cross vaults, represent the premises for the resumption of monumental vaulted buildings, the most important example of which (also because it is the only Carolingian church preserved in French territory) is the church by Germigny-des-Prés (founded around 806), with a central plan, with Spanish influences in the horseshoe arches. Of the Carolingian painting remain the frescoes in the crypt of Auxerre (ca. 841-861); of the bronze sculpture the throne of Dagobert (Paris, Louvre), which however comes from a foundry in Aachen, and the equestrian statuette perhaps of Charlemagne, also in the Louvre. An important artistic manifestation of the time was the miniature, which had its major centers in Reims and Tours. Great development had the processing of ivory (on Byzantine models) and the goldsmithing (treasure of Conques; binding of the Psalter of Charles the Bald, ca. 860, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale). Between the middle of the century. IX and half of the century. X, due to the Norman invasions, the artistic activity slowed down, but at the end of the century. X, with the spread of the monastic reform movement, a phase of renewal began which ended at the end of the following century with the full maturity of the Romanesque style. This presents in France a great variety of regional characterizations. The most important were the Norman ones (Jumièges, Caen), with women’s galleries, wooden roof, system of bundled pillars and alternating columns; poitevina (Saint-Savin of Poitiers), with “hall” churches without direct light; aquitanica (Angoulême, Saint-Front in Périgueux), with a single nave covered by domes; Provençal (Arles, Saint-Gilles), with very high aisles with barrel vaulting and without a gallery; Auvergne (Clermont-Ferrand), deriving from the pilgrimage churches located on the way to Santiago de Compostela (Saint-Martial of Limoges, Saint-Sernin of Toulouse, Sainte-Foy of Conques, all with galleries, barrel and half barrel vaults, apses with radial chapels). In Burgundy there were three different groups: the one derived from Cluny III, with pointed barrel vaults (Autun); that of Vézelay, with cross vaults; that of the Cistercian churches (Fontenay), characterized by the absence of decoration and by the T-shaped plan. In sculpture the main schools were that of the Languedoc (Moissac, Souillac, Cahors, Conques) and that of Burgundy (Cluny), partly influenced by the previous (Autun, Vézelay), but flourishing were also those of Poitou and Saintonge (Saintes, Aulnay, Angoulême, Poitiers). Later (dating back to the second half of the 12th century) is the Provençal school, of classical inspiration (cloister of Saint-Trophime in Arles, facade of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard). For the painting we remember the frescoes of Saint-Chef (Isère), which are among the oldest (1087-1114); of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe and some churches of Poitiers, in Poitou; of Nohant-Vicq, Brinay and Palluau in Berry; of Tavant, Montoire, Poncé in the Loire area.
CULTURE: ART. THE GOTHIC
Towards the middle of the century. XII appeared in the Île-de-France area the Gothic style, which united in an organic system elements that had appeared in isolation in numerous Romanesque churches, such as the pointed arch, the flying buttress or the ribbed vault. The reconstruction of the choir of Saint-Denis dates back to 1140. The subsequent Protogothic cathedrals with women’s galleries and hexapartite vaults of Sens, Noyon, Senlis, Notre-Dame of Paris, Laon marked as many stages in the development of the style, which is fully mature in the cathedrals of Chartres (from 1194), Reims (from 1211), Amiens (from 1220), Bourges, and fully concluded in the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris (1242-48) with a single room with fully glazed walls, in the cathedral of Beauvais (from 1248) and in Saint-Urbain of Troyes (1261-77). On April 15, 2019, flèche. The Île-de-France style was imitated throughout France (Rouen, Le Mans, Narbonne, Clermont-Ferrand, Limoges, Tours, Bayonne, Toulouse, Bordeaux etc.) and in the rest of Europe. Regional variants can be recognized in Burgundy (Dijon) and in Champagne (Nevers), while in Anjou (Angers) and in the South (cathedral of Albi, from 1282; Jacobins of Toulouse; Carpentras, Avignon, Montpellier) already late Gothic tendencies (unitary internal spaces, single naves with chapels, external compact block). After the slowdown in building activity due to the Hundred Years War, the late Gothic style (ca. 1400-1550) was established, which in France took the name of flamboyant (Abbeville, Louviers, Saint-Maclou of Rouen, Troyes, Brou). In military architecture the Gothic period developed the premises of the Romanesque in castles and fortified cities with high regular curtains interspersed with towers (Carcassonne, Avignon, Angers, Aigues-Mortes, Gisors, Châteaudun). In the fourteenth century the castles began to become real residential palaces (Palazzo dei Papi in Avignon). The cities were enriched with conspicuous examples of civil architecture, both public, such as city palaces, often with typical beffrois (Saint-Omer, Saint-Quentin, Compiègne, Arras), the hospitals (Angers, Tonnerre, Beaune), the bridges (Avignon, Cahors, Montauban), both private (Jacques Coeur’s palace in Bourges). Gothic sculpture contrasted the visionary spirit of the Romanesque masters with a lively naturalism and a new humanity, until reaching a full balance between realism and idealism in the mid-thirteenth century (transepts of Chartres, western facade of Reims). In the fourteenth century the end of the great construction enterprises of cathedrals limited the field of sculpture to isolated statues and sepulchres (royal tombs of Saint-Denis; tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy in the Carthusian monastery of Champmol). The art of polychrome stained glass, to which Gothic architecture entrusted a prominent function with respect to the other decorative elements,