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Gothic Revival

The Gothic Revival was an architectural style popular in England beginning in the 1740s. It gained worldwide popularity during the 19th century. Perhaps the most famous example of Gothic Revival is the Palace of Westminster in London, home to Parliament and the Big Ben clock tower.

Gothic architecture was best remembered as the style of the great European cathedrals of the Middle Ages. The development of Romanticism in the mid 18th century sparked a revival of interest in the medieval style, borrowing the picturesque and applying it to the rococo style popular at the time. Paper Masters can write a custom written research paper on Gothic Revival that follows your guidelines.

Gothic Revival

Gothic Revival Migration

Gothic Revival soon migrated to Canada. The Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, designed in 1824, was one of the first notable buildings to display this style, although numerous buildings in the capital of Ottawa, including Parliament Hill, were designed using Gothic Revival.

The Gothic Revival style was soon applied to more than just medieval architecture. Luxury goods and furniture were produced with elements of pointed arches and intricate latticework. A.W.N. Pugin, who designed the Palace of Westminster, started out making gothic-inspired luxury goods.

In the United States, the style was quickly adopted by universities, transformed into the Collegiate Gothic style, and can be seen in the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as on campuses from Yale to Boston College and the University of Chicago to Fordham University in the Bronx.

Gothic Revival Borrowed From the Europeans

In physical terms, Gothic architecture borrowed from and improved upon pre-existing building styles. 

  • From the Lombards in in northern Italy, the Normans took:
    • the ribbed and domed vault
    • the compound pier (the multiple-shafted upright column)
    • the archivolt (the bands of receding openings surrounding a building entrance). 
  • From the Franks--that is, from the Carolingian components of the Romanesque style they took:
    • the doubled western towers (great spires)
    • the lantern (the central tower over the crossing structure)
    • the interior system of arcade, triforium and clerestory (the three rising levels from floor to light) 

To expand the clerestory vertically, the Normans again substituted sophisticated design for brute strength.  They thinned the outer walls of the structure and the primary weight-bearing element and supported them with buttresses.  (The flying buttresses of Notre Dame de Paris express this development perfectly.)  This, in turn, permitted a greater number of stained glass windows, the “translucent canvas” of medieval cathedral artists.  This contrasted with the thick-walled Romanesque churches, pierced by narrow windows, the roof-bearing walls sometimes strengthened by transverse arches.

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