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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/430

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398
Part II.
CHRISTIAN ARCHITECTURE.

in speaking of those which remain to be described; and as it is generally found to be so convenient, whenever it is possible it will be adhered to.

In order to carry out these principles, the division proposed for this part of the subject is—

1st. To treat of the Western Romanesque as it prevailed in Italy between the ages of Constantine and Justinian or down to the age of Gregory the Great, say about the year 600. So long in fact as it remained an original, independent style, unmixed with foreign or extraneous influences.

2d. To take up the Gothic style in France, and follow it from the time it emancipated itself from the Romanesque till it perished under Francis I. If this arrangement is not quite logical, it is certainly convenient, as it enables us to grasp the complete history of the style in the country where most of the more important features were invented and perfected. Having once mastered the history of Gothic art in the country of its birth, the sequence in which the other branches of the style are followed becomes comparatively unimportant. The difficulty of arranging them does not lie so much in the sequence as in the determination of what divisions shall be considered as separate architectural provinces. In a handbook, subdivision could hardly be carried too far; in a history, a wider view ought to be taken. On the whole, perhaps, the following will best meet the true exigencies of the case:

3d. Belgium and Holland should be taken up after France as a separate province during the Middle Ages, while at the same time forming an intermediate link between that country and Germany.

4th. Though not without important ethnographical distinctions, it will be convenient to treat all the German-speaking countries from the Alps to the Baltic as one province. If Germany were taken up before France, such a mode of treatment would be inadmissible; but following the history of the art in that country, it may be done without either confusion or needless repetition.

5th. Scandinavia follows naturally as a subordinate and unfortunately not very important architectural subdivision.

6th. From this we pass by an easy gradation to the British Islands, which in themselves contain three tolerably well defined varieties of style, popularly known as the Saxon, the Norman, or round-arched, and the Gothic, or pointed-arched style of Architecture.

7th. Spain might have been made to follow France, as most of its architectural peculiarities were borrowed from that country; but some too own a German origin, while on the whole the new lessons to be learned from a study of her art are so few, that it is comparatively unimportant in what sequence the country is taken.

8th. There then only remains Italy, from which our history