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Posts tagged ‘gothic’

The Scrovegni Chapel: My Moment with Giotto’s Masterpiece

To enter the Scrovegni Chapel, you have to spend 15 minutes in a “environmental equilibration” chamber and video introduction before passing through two air locks into the chapel.  Shockingly, visitors only get another 15 minutes to look around before being rushed out by security.  However, if you are a clever art pilgrim (like yours truly) and book multiple back-to-back tickets, the museum escort chases everyone else out but leaves you alone for a few glorious minutes within the chapel.

Standing at the altar looking down the rows of painted vignettes, the rich pastel colors glowing warmly from the morning sunlight, has got to be one of the most profoundly beautiful art experience I have ever had.  To say I loved the Scrovegni Chapel would be an understatement.

Giotto Scrovegni Chapel, Padua

Photo of Giotto’s masterpiece, the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (Photo: Art Bouillon)

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Inside Rouen Cathedral

A list of the greatest Gothic Cathedrals in the World is going to be dominated by the French greats: Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Chartres, Amiens, Riems and Rouen.  Since cathedrals, with their cavernous interior space and organic ribbing, are places to be explored and experienced, I always make time for a long visit!  Rouen Cathedral in Normandy is a spectacular example of the High Gothic (mostly) style and well worth gazing at and wandering through.

Main aisle of the Rouen Cathedral.

Main aisle of the Rouen Cathedral.

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Blended Architecture in Chiesa Matrice, Erice, Sicily

Sometimes on the quest for art, you end up learning a lot more about the history of a place.  I didn’t expect to find Norman castles and churches in Sicily but it is hard to deny the thick bulky structures when you find them.  I also didn’t expect to find detailed decorative elements reminiscent of the Middle East but there they were.  What became Sicilian Norman art is a blend of cultures and adds an exotic flavor to an already interesting mix of Greco-Roman and Baroque architecture on the island.  Once you factor in 19th century restorations with a mind of their own, you find can find some complex and beautiful churches.  I found one such example of blended art in the little town of Erice and the Chiesa Matrice Church.

Beautiful ceiling details

Beautiful ceiling details

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Celtic Gothic Figures

While I love Gothic art, there is something especially appealing about the Irish Gothic style.  The heavy infusion of Celtic design and the stylized figures energize this art and gives it a playful feel.  Many of the medieval ruins I found in Ireland where not particularly ornate which made the appearance of Gothic figures and motifs that much more enjoyable.

Doorway decoration from the Monastery at Dysert O’Dea (County Clare):

Doorway decoration from the Monastery at Dysert O'Dea. Read more

ArtSmart Roundtable – Images of Mary Magdalene

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art history-focused travel blogs with a post on a common theme.  For February we are discussing the iconography of a few historical, religious or mythical figures to help you “read” some of the images you may encounter on the road.  I’ve always thought that understanding the context and source material for imagery really deepens your appreciation for art.  You can find links below to all the group’s articles this month.

Flanders Book of Hours Illuminated Manuscript - St Lawrence

The martyr St. Lawrence was “grilled” to death and is usually seen with a metal cooking rack. Book of Hours, 1510, Flanders, Syracuse University Special Collections.

I love seeing Saints in European art because it is so easy to tell who everyone is.  There is a characteristic object or dress to each figure that helps you decipher his or her identity.  I’ve always been partial to John the Baptist with his wild man appearance and camel hair attire.  But what about the saints with less straight-forward stories?  Theological and historical confusion has long shrouded St. Mary Magdalene; consequently, she has a complex visual iconography.

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