Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Monday, March 15, 2010

Romanesque Decoration

From the book ¨The Art of The West. I. Romanesque¨, by Henri Focillon (Cornell University Press, New York, 1980) we are able to learn that Romanesque architecture is imbued in furnishings and illuminated books. It is not a condition of self similarity, because the images were not exactly the same, but I can say there was a sort of concept of self similarity in a scaling order. Let us read the a text (p. 136) from the chapter III ¨Romanesque Decoration¨.

 Romanesque church of San Isidoro, Spain.

Three towers reliquary.

Wooden bench from Sant Climent de Tahull, twelfth century. Barcelona, Museo de Arte de Cataluña. Picture from my book ¨The Art of the West¨, by Henri Focillon

The logic of Romanesque architecture dominated the decorative arts. Obviously the application of this rule varied according to circumstances, but even metalwork was dominated by it. When the goldsmith was not a sculptor of cult images, heads or limbs, he was an architect or reliquaries. He gave to the shrines the form of chapels, adorned with arcades and covered with pitched roofs, while the pyxes were little turrets with perfectly conical roofs. The Cologne masters gave a magnificent development to the motif of the basilica of Greek-cross plan, surmounted by a cupola. Thus there was installed within the church another tinier church, not necessarily of the same type, but invariably conceived as architecture, like a microcosm surrounded by the vastness of the universe. A similar meaning must be read into the decorative architecture of the manuscripts, the canopies sculptured in stone or ivory, the arcades and pillars of carved wooden furniture. But such small scale replicas are only one form of a much wider harmony. This reacts characteristically upon wall painting. Nor does the painting of the manuscripts escape it. Like the reliquaries, most of the latter were conceived with a view of the scale of the building. They formed part of the liturgical furnishings, and have the necessary shape and format for being held by strong hands or laid on tall lecterns before which a a man stood upright, between massive columns and beneath immense vaults. The parchment on which is of the same colour as the wall, and seem to frame them within a broad border of stone. The figures with which they are adorned often possess the amplitude, the dignity and the calm strength appropriate to mural decoration.

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