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Gothic art and architecture

Gothic art and architecture, the Gothic style of art and architecture flourished in Europe, particularly in France, from the mid-12th century to the end of the 15th century. The style was first referred to as “Gothic” (after the Goths, who invaded the Roman Empire in the A.D. 200s) by Renaissance artists and writers who sought to condemn it as barbaric. Gothic architecture developed from the style called Romanesque, combining the latter's barrel vault and the stone rib to produce its most characteristic feature, the rib vault. This was first perfected at the Abbey Church of St. Denis near Paris (1140). The rib vault made possible a lighter, almost skeletal building. The flying buttress, also characteristic, was first used at Notre Dame in Paris. During the 13th century, the style known as High Gothic was perfected, and cathedrals with higher vaults and more slender columns and walls were constructed, as at Chartres and Reims in France, Salisbury in England, and Cologne in Germany. In the 14th and 15th centuries Gothic works became more elaborate and ornate. Sculptural decoration was an essential part of Gothic architecture, as were stained glass windows, the most notable examples of which are at Chartres. The period is also noted for its manuscript illumination in missals, books of hours, Bibles, and psalters.

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