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German Renaissance - Comparative Analysis

( Originally Published 1921 )

A. Plans.—The internal courtyard of the Mediaeval period, often irregular in form (p. 658 B), was continued in castles and country houses, and the general picturesqueness was increased by balconies and external stair-turrets. The town Rathhaus frequently deviated from this traditional plan and was built in a solid block.

B. Walls.—Wall surfaces, both in brick and stone, were now relieved by Orders to each storey (pp. 653 C, D, 654 A, 655), while oriel windows, traditional from the Gothic period, were frequently introduced between the Orders, and walls were carried up in steep gables (p. 655 B, c) which give an irregular picturesque outline, in striking contrast to the restrained dignity of Italian palace walls.

C. Openings.—Arcades of columns supporting arches are only occasionally introduced (p. 654 B). Doorways are tricked out by a superfluity of ornament, including a mixture of columns, statuary, carving, and pediments of various forms (p. 659 J). Windows remain large and mullioned (p. 653 C, D) as in the Gothic period, and are crowned by grotesques, scrolly gables (pp. 655, 656, 659 E), or entablatures (p. 659 G), and in the later period by variations of the Classic pediment (p. 653 D). Oriel windows (p. 655 A, D) project both from facades and angles of buildings, and thus make another difference between German and Italian treatment.

D. Roofs.—Large roofs containing many storeys (pp. 654 B, 655 A) are conspicuous features in town and country houses, and, as in the Gothic period, they served as drying-rooms in the crowded cities. There were two methods of treatment—(a) the ridge parallel to the street, as is usual in Nuremberg, with its rising tiers of dormer windows (p. 654 B) ; (b) the ridge at right angles to the street, as at Landshut and other places which favour fantastic gables (p. 655 B). The Pellerhaus, Nuremberg (p. 655 c), combines both methods.

E. Columns.—The Orders were freely employed as decorative adjuncts (pp. 653 C, D, 655 B, 656 A). Columns, Hermes columns, and pilasters were overladen with carved ornament (p. 656 B), and were introduced without regard to traditional proportions or structural uses ; they were even supported on corbels, as at Heidelberg, and ornate cornices and entablatures are used to mark off the storeys. Many novel treatments of capitals were also adopted (p. 659 D, F).

F. Mouldings.—Mouldings were characterised by boldness and vigour rather than by refinement (p. 659). Early Renaissance mouldings show Gothic influence, even to the retention of interpenetration of mouldings, which, however, were gradually discarded for the more correct mouldings of the Italian Renaissance.

G. Ornament.—Sculpture of a fanciful and grotesque character ran riot in the early sixteenth century (p. 659 H), especially at Heidelberg Castle, where Italian influence mingles with the native Gothic tradition (pp. 653 c, D, 659 A, B, C). Nothing richer in decorative sculpture was achieved than in the Stiftskirche, Stuttgart, where the architectural frame of Hermes pilasters, surmounted by winged cupids, encloses figures of the Counts of Würtemberg with their heraldic devices. The country also abounds in Renaissance monuments, such as that remarkable memorial of Duke Frederick in S. Maurice, Coburg, numerous chimney-pieces of an architectural character, with heraldic devices, sculptured wellheads, and other ornamental features. Renaissance decoration in window glass and fresco work, more especially of the Munich school, is exceptionally fine in the boldness of its draughtsmanship.

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