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German Gothic - Architectural Character

( Originally Published 1921 )

Gothic architecture in Germany was similar in general character to that in other parts of Europe (p. 300), and may be considered to have lasted from A.D. 1250-1500. The style, however, came direct from France and was not evolved from German Romanesque, and this method of its introduction may be due to the extent to which Romanesque building had been developed in Germany, where a preference for the ponderous Romanesque style had resulted in the adaptation of vaulting to new needs without resorting to the pointed arch and other Gothic features. The Gothic style was therefore only reluctantly adopted in the middle of the thirteenth century when it was near its zenith in France, but Romanesque precedents were long followed, and although the pointed arch appears in A.D. 1140 in Paderborn Cathedral, it was long before it supplanted the round arch of the Romanesque. In Northern Germany and in the valley of the Elbe the architecture was carried out in brick, and at Lubeck even window mullions and tracery were of brick, and this brick architecture, although more meagre in design than that of Lombardy, has the character due to the material.

The " hall " churches (dreischiffige Kirche) are a special characteristic of German Gothic, more particularly in the north, and in these the nave and aisles are approximately the same height, with the consequent absence of triforium and clear-story (p. 486 A). The only English cathedral of this unusual type is Bristol, although it occurs in the Temple Church, London (p. 325), and in some parish churches. Another distinguishing feature is a single western tower or western apse in place of the wide, sculptured doorways of French cathedrals, thus giving a totally different external appearance (p. 485 D). It has been suggested that this apse attached to the west end may have been derived from a detached baptistery ; or it may have been for the use of the laity in cases where the eastern apse was devoted to conventual use.

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