Category Archives: Assignment 2

Visit to a Gothic church – Manchester Cathedral (short version) – longer version to follow.

Visit to a Gothic church – Manchester Cathedral



The main body of the Cathedral (particularly the outside) is in the Perpendicular Gothic style, however, there are many other developments to the church that make it a much more complicated building to read. This includes the Tudor wooden furnishings (for example, the pulpitum, choir stalls and the nave roof), also the medieval church was extensively restored in the Victorian period, and part of the building was also damaged by bombing during WWII and subsequently rebuilt. So the inside of the Cathedral is a real mixture of styles from different historical periods which makes it difficult to interpret purely from a Gothic point of view.



The outside of the Cathedral does have the appearance of a typical Perpendicular Gothic church. In particular the windows which are less intricate than previous incarnations of the Gothic style and incorporate a lot of strong vertical lines. The generous use of decorated finials gives the exterior a unified feel which belies the various editions/repairs that have been made over the years. The only thing that detracts from giving the viewer the idea that the church is from the Perpendicular Gothic period (late C14th to early C16th) is the Victorian restoration work which makes the church’s stone work look much younger.

The inside the church differs greatly from the exterior as there is no unified Gothic feel. There are parts that date from the church built around 1215, the new nave and the choir added in the C15th, we also have Tudor period ceilings and the reconstruction post WWII (most notably modern, and abstract, stained glass windows). The confusion of styles of the interior is added to by the Cathedral’s proportions and lighting. Even on a sunny day the interior does feel gloomy, much of this is because of the darkness of the interior itself. The stonework in the nave, the choir and the ceilings are all constructed from very wood or stone which seem to absorb the window light. Also the majority of windows are not stained glass which also means that the light that penetrates the building does not add any particular colour or drama to the building. The Nave in particular doesn’t feel typically Gothic due to its dimensions, it’s the widest one in England which makes the Cathedral appear shorter in length. Also the dark stone of the arches and the dark wood of the ceiling means the Cathedral lack that typical Gothic soaring to heaven feel that so many have.



The exterior has a unified feel of a Perpendicular Gothic Church which probably builds an expectation in the visitor for something similarly Gothic inside. However, Manchester Cathedral really is a game of two halves, as upon entering you realise there is so much more to this building. You don’t get that awe inspiring feeling of being transported from the earthly to the heavenly as you do in many Gothic Cathedrals. Instead what you get is a space that feels much more intimate, relaxed and personal.



chapter 9 AWHOA

notes for chapter 9 – Medieval Europe

Political, economic and social factors

Charlemagne died in 814 after which there were invasions form Vikings, Islam and Magyars. Very turbulent times. 10th Century the Romanesque style emerges after Muslims pushed out of Italy and the city states develop (church rebuilding programme started). 11th Century the Gothic style emerges. During 10/11th Century Germany and France start developing their own cultural identity fuelled partly by the church. Gothic cathedrals built in a way to bring the community together both through construction and its place in the heart of the town/city, it also helped commerce in terms of attracting pilgrims. 13th Century decline in mosaic production to economic downturn, people turned to wall painting instead which was much cheaper. Bubonic plague hit Europe in 1348 which led to the greater strangle hold of the rich and powerful in society (especially land owners and merchants). As a consequence commissioning of art by secular powers developed and led onto a flourishing of art and inventiveness paving way for the Renaissance.

Changes to status or training of Artists

Monks were taught to produce illuminated manuscripts. Rise of the ‘Master Mason’ they would travel around and get ideas from other Cathedrals to bring back and develop on their own projects. Up until the emergence of Giotto painters are not valued very highly or treated very well. Giotto broke the mould and became both wealthy and celebrated in his lifetime. He really developed patronage to his own advantage.

Development of materials and processes

During Medieval period both the production of stained glass and illuminated manuscripts was developed. Romanesque = dev. of the barrel vault and the internal buttress. Gothic = dev. of the groin vault and external buttress. Buttresses and arches generally dev. to help with problems of ever increasing dimensions of Cathedrals in this period but were turned into notable decorative features themselves during the Gothic period. Church figure carving becomes more realistic and naturalistic during Gothic period. Fresco/secco painting developed as mosaic died out.

Styles and movements

Stained glass developed as a way for the church do display Gospel events to the masses (i.e. those who could not read the bible themselves). Helped to spread the church’s message.

Romanesque style emerged, was quite conservative and backward looking (began in Tuscany). Outside of churches reflect inside, lots of geometrical patterns. Style spread to other parts of Italy then across Europe fuelled by monasteries being set up. Romanesque has origin in Roman engineering.

Gothic developed after starting in France (St Denis, Paris), then spread to other parts of France and then England, Germany and Italy. See next page for main differences between two styles. Attempt to unite heaven and earth for the brethren through soaring architecture, diffused light through the windows, etc… – give an unearthly feel detached from normal life. Cathedral helps to reinforce the faith and revels in the glory of god.


Critics, thinkers and historians

The term Romanesque was coined in the 19th Century as a derogatory term meaning debased Roman.

Greek and Roman statue assignment

I was asked to do an annotation for a Greek and a roman sculpture, after the trip to the British Museum to find the right statues i have now completed the annotations themselves.


Although i think i have done an ok job in selecting the works and compiling the information to go with it I am always disappointed by my execution of the actual annotation because of my poor presentation and diabolical hand writing. not much i can do about it but it does get me down as i am not the artistic type just an art lover! i do feel that the annotated work does favour those with artistic skills and really highlights the lack of these in others like me. I just hope that presentation of these does not make up part of the assessment.


Assignment 2 prep – the difference between Greek and Roman sculpture.

Some quick and easy differences to focus on when comparing a Greek and a Roman Sculpture to compare for assignment 2. Off to British Museum in a couple of weeks to complete this part of the assignment, hopefully these pointers will help with both the selection of subjects and the comparison of them.


Greek Statues                                                 Roman Statues

Idealised form                                                  More realistic in form


Statues usually stand unaided                    Statues often need support to stand or balance


Mostly nude statues                                       More likely to be clothed


Mainly bronze then marble                         Mostly just marble


Mostly mythical subjects                              More historical and real subjects


Painting of marble sculptures                      Didn’t usually paint them


Detached/unemotional face                          Highly decorated


Based on human symmetry                           Smaller heads, longer limbs


Focus on reason/moderation                         More ostentatious


“Heroic nude” a theme                                   Portrait busts developed







AWHOA chapter 5 notes

Political, economic and social factors
The Hellenistic period began with the death of Alexander in 323BC when the Greek empire was split up into smaller kingdoms. It continued until Rome became the dominant kingdom in the region. Hellenistic period sees the rise of new thoughts/practices relating to art (Art History, art for art’s sake, art collecting and the secularisation of art).
In Rome collecting Greek art became very popular and so much so that artists started producing copies of original statues which were not necessarily to scale or in the same material. Previously religious images became ordinary household decoration so that their original meaning or significance was lost. Standardised statute bodies were mass produced minus the head so that buyers could have made a specific head made to place on it (e.g. family member, etc…)
Town planning became an important development in Rome, cities became much more about political and civic needs than religious ones. Things like bridges, aquaducts, roads and apartment buildings gained in importance while temples and shrines became less the centre of attention and smaller in scale.

Development of materials and processes
In terms of architecture two materials came to the fore marble and concrete. The sourcing of good supplies of marble ensured its use increased. The Romans also harnessed the potential of concrete to change the design and size of the buildings they produced. Both the colosseum and the Pantheon were only able to be constructed due to developments in the use of concrete. Also the use of arches becomes for more widespread, for example aquaducts.

Styles and movements
The Hellenistic period ushered in some interesting stylistic developments in art (for example naturalism and allegory). The Greek ideal of the ‘Golden Mean’ of natural symmetry and proportion declined in influence so that more extreme forms of art were produced. For example much larger statues were produced who’s proportions differ from natural ones (smaller heads, larger limbs).
Roman art was very much influenced by previous styles (especially Greek), the empire was also made up of many different cultures from many lands. For these reasons it is difficult to discern a specific Roman style though certain characteristics or qualities can be defined.
This is most notable in Architecture where developments like the triumphal arch and columns were very Roman developments to display significant historical events. Also the use very decorative displays on buildings and the development of the Roman lettering system for inscriptions.
In sculpture the development of the bust, through family portraiture, and the realistic depiction of features in these.

Critics, thinkers and historians
The Hellenistic period came out of the reign of Alexander which was considered a high point for art. After this Alexandrian art was perceived to be ‘classic’ and the ‘norm’ that subsequent art should conform to (Plato had influence in this). This really was the creation of the idea of ‘Art History’. Aristotle broke from this idea, he said the form of an object was decided by who made it, what it was made of and its purpose. This allowed artist to be more individual, expressive and ground breaking. As a consequence objects start to be valued on the merits as works of art rather than just on their function or purpose.
Socrates ideas around the nature of man led onto the more natural depiction of man in art and the decline in the Greek ‘ideal’ depiction.