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German Romanesque - Comparative Analysis

( Originally Published 1921 )

A. Plans.—Naves and aisles of churches are vaulted in square bays, one vaulting bay of the nave being equal to two of the aisles, as in Worms Cathedral (p. 292 J), and the Church of the Apostles, Cologne (p. 291 D). The plans of churches are complicated by the multiplication of towers, transepts, and apses at either end, while the choir is always apsidal and often raised, as in Lombardy, to admit of a crypt beneath. Apses also frequently terminate the western end of the nave, as at Worms (p. 292 J) and Laach, and churches are sometimes triapsal, as the Church of the Apostles, Cologne (p. 291 D), while in others there are also western transepts with towers over the crossing. Towers, square, circular, or polygonal, numbering often as many as six, two at the east end flanking the apse, and two similarly at the west end, give a varied skyline to churches (p. 296 K).

B. Walls.—The plain wall surface is relieved by pilaster strips, derived from Classic Roman art, connected horizontally at different stages by ranges of arches on corbels which, owing to the smallness of scale, have the appearance of moulded string courses (pp. 291 C, 292 F, 296). Open arcades, the origin of which has already been considered, are frequent under the eaves of roofs, especially round apses (p. 291 c). Churches usually have a triforium and always a clear-story (p. 291 A).

C. Openings.—Nave arcades are frequently unmoulded and the semi-circular arches spring from piers (pp. 291, 292) or cylinders, while alternate piers are sometimes carried up to support the vault ribs (pp. 291 A, 292 B). Cloisters frequently have small columns supporting arches in groups of three (p. 296 P). The eaves galleries (p. 291 c), borrowed from Lombardy, are special features, sometimes carried entirely round the church, as at Spires (p. 295 A). Doorways are frequently in the side aisles instead of in the west front or transepts, and have recesses with nook shafts (p. 296 R, S, T). Windows are usually single, but occasionally grouped (p. 296 M), and sometimes have a mid-wall shaft (p. 296 H, Q), the germ of Gothic tracery windows.

D. Roofs.—In the Rhine district the semicircular cross-vault of the nave is of a domical nature, owing to the use of semicircular ribs, which rise to a greater height over the diagonal of the compartment. The system of including two bays of the aisle in one nave vaulting compartment was generally adopted (pp. 291 A, B, 292 B, C). Timber roofs were also employed for naves with large spans, as at Gernrode. Square towers, divided into storeys by moulded courses, frequently terminate in four gables with hipped rafters rising from the apex of each, and the roofing planes intersect at these rafters and thus form a pyramidal or " helm " roof with four diamond-shaped sides meeting at the apex (pp. 291 C, 296 x). Polygonal towers have similar roofs, but with valleys between the gables (p. 291 c), and all show the commencement of the evolution of spires which became the feature of the Gothic period.

E. Columns.—In nave arcades square piers with attached half-columns were usual; though sometimes varied by the alternation of compound piers and cylinders, crowned by capitals bold in execution and well designed (p. 296 A, B, C, D). The shafts and capitals in doorways are frequently elaborately carved with figures of men, birds, and animals (p. 296 E, J, L, N).

F. Mouldings (p. 295 B).—There is a general absence of mouldings in nave arcades, which gives a bold appearance to interiors. When they occur, mouldings are as a rule of indifferent design, and those of capitals and bases take a distinctive form intermediate between Roman and Gothic.

G. Ornament. — Internally the flat wall surfaces were occasionally decorated in fresco, and the traditions of the Early Christian and Byzantine mosaic decorations were carried on in colour, or characteristic carving in bands was employed (p. 296 G), while externally the coloured bricks used in the north account for the absence of sculptured foliage. The sculpture is often well executed (p. 296 N), and the craftsmanship of this period is seen in the bronze doors of Hildesheim Cathedral (A.D. 1015), which are wrought in wonderful detail to represent the Creation, the Fall, and the Redemption.

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