Online Encyclopedia

ROMANESQUE AND GOTHIC IN BELGIUM AND

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 408 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
ROMANESQUE AND GOTHIC IN BELGIUM AND HOLLAND Of early Romanesque work neither Belgium nor Holland retains any examples; for with the exception of the small building at Nijmwegen built by Charlemagne, there are no churches prior to the 11th century, and at first the influence in Belgium would seem to have come from Lombardy, through the Rhine Provinces. As all her large churches are built in the centres of her most important towns, it is probable that the older examples were pulled down to make way for others more in accordance with the increasing wealth and population. In the 13th century they came under the influence of the great Gothic movement in France, and two or three of their cathedrals compare favourably with the French cathedrals. The finest example of earlier date is that of the cathedral of Tournai (fig. 49), the nave of which was built in the second half of the 11th century, to which a transept with north and south apses and aisles round them was added about the middle of the 12th century. These latter features are contemporaneous with similar examples at Cologne, and the idea of the plan may have been taken from them; externally, however, they differ so widely that the design may be looked upon as an original conception, though the nave arcades, triforium storey, and clerestory resemble the contemporaneous work in Normandy. The original choir was pulled down in the 14th century, and a magnificent chevet of the French type erected in its place. The grouping of the towers which flank the transept, with the central lantern, the apses, and lofty choir, is extremely fine (fig. 50). The sculptures on the west front, dating from the 12th to the 16th century, protected by a portico of the late 15th century, are of remarkable interest and in good preservation. They are in three tiers, the two lowest consisting of bas-reliefs, the upper tier with life-size figures in niches, resting on corbels. The Romanesque tower of the church of St Jacques in the same town, with angle turrets, is a picturesque and well-designed structure. Other early examples are those of St Bartholomew at Liege (A.D. ioi5) and the churches at Roermonde and St Servais at Maastricht, both belonging to Holland. The latter is an extremely fine example, which recalls the work at Cologne, and in its great western narthex follows on the lines of the German churches at Gernrode, Corvey and Brunswick. Among other churches of later date are St Gudule at Brussels, with Gothic 13th century choir and a 14th century nave with great circular pillars, the west front of later date, approached by a lofty flight of steps, having a very fine effect; Ste Croix at Liege, with a western apse; St Martin at Ypres and St Bavon at Ghent, both with 13th-century choir °and 14th-century nave; Tongres, 13th century with great circular pillars and an early Romanesque cloister; Notre Dame de Pamele at Oudenarde; and Notre Dame at Bruges, 14th century. Of 15th and 16th century work (for the Gothic style lasted without any trace of the Renaissance till the middle of the 16th century) are St Gommaire at Lierre (1425–1557); St Martin, Alost (1498); St Jacques, Antwerp; and St Martin and St Jacques,both at Liege. The largest in area, and in that sense the most important church in Belgium, is Notre Dame at Antwerp (misnamed the cathedral). It was begun in 1352, but not completed till the 16th century, so that it possesses many transitional features. It is one of the few churches with three aisles on each side of the nave, the outer aisle being nearly as wide as the nave, which is too narrow to have a fine effect. Only one of the two spires of the west front is built, perhaps to its advantage; the upper portion presents in its pierced stone spires one of those remarkable tours-de-force of which masons are so proud, and having a simple substructure it gains by contrast with and is much superior to the spires of Cologne, Vienna and Ulm. Among the most remarkable features in these Belgian churches are the rood screens, the earliest of which is in the church of St Peter at Lquvain, dating from 1400, in rich Flamboyant Gothic, retaining all its statues. In the church at Dixmuiden, St Gommaire at Lierre (1534), and in Notre Dame, Walcourt (1531), are other examples all in perfect preservation; the last is said to have been given by the emperor Charles V., and in the same church is a lofty tabernacle in Flamboyant Gothic. Owing to the comparatively late date of many of the Belgian churches, they are all more or less unfinished, as the religious fervour of the citizens who built them would seem to have changed in favour of their town halls and civic buildings immediately connected with trade. The Cloth Hall at Ypres (1200–1334) with a frontage of 46o ft., three storeys high with a lofty central tower and a hall on the upper storey 435 ft. long, one of the finest buildings of the period in Europe; Les Halles at Bruges, originally built as a cloth hall, also with a lofty central tower; and a simple example at Malines, are the earliest buildings of this type. There follow a series of magnificent town halls, of which that at Brussels is the largest, but the tower not being quite in the centre of its facade gives it a lopsided appearance. There is no tower to the town hall at Louvain (1448–1469), but this is compensated for by the angle turrets, and the design is far bolder. In both these examples the vertical lines are too strongly accentuated, and seeing that they are in two or three storeys, the latter should have been maintained in the design of the facades. In this respect the town hall of Oudenarde (i 527–1535) is more truthful, and as a result is far superior to them; the tower also is in the centre of the principal front, which at all events is better than at Brussels, though as a matter of composition it would have been more effective and picturesque if it Tournai. had been placed at one end of the facade. In the town hall at Mons there is no tower, but a fine upper storey with ten windows filled with good tracery. Of the town hall at Ghent only one half is Gothic (148o--1482), as it was not completed till a century later, and though overladen with Flamboyant ornament it has fine qualities in its design. Although but few examples still exist of the Gothic structures belonging .to the various gilds, owing to their having been rebuilt in the Renaissance style, those of the Bateliers at Ghent (1531), and of the Fishmongers at Malines (1519), bear witness in the rich decoration to the wealth of these corporations. Holland is extremely poor in church architecture, but there are two examples which should be noted, at Utrecht and Bois-le-Due ('s Hertogenbosch). Of the former only the choir exists. It is of great height (115 ft.), and belongs to the finest period of Gothic architecture (1251-1267). The nave was destroyed by a hurricane in 1674, and so seriously damaged that it was all taken down (a wall being built to enclose the choir) and an open square left between it and the lofty west tower. The cathedral of St John at Bois-le-Duc, though founded in 1300, was rebuilt in the Flamboyant period (1419-1497). It is of great length (400 ft.) with a fine chevet, and possessed originally a magnificent rood screen in the early Renaissance style (1625) ; this seemed to the burghers to be out of keeping with the Gothic church, so it was taken down and sold to the South Kensington Museum, being replaced by a very poor example in Modern Gothic. There is only one Gothic town hall of importance in Holland, that at Middleburg (1468), a fine example, and quite equal to those in Belgium. The ground and upper floors are kept distinct, and as the wall surface of these lower storeys is in plain masonry, the traceried windows and the canopied niches (all of which retain their statues) gain by the contrast. There is a small picturesque specimen at Gouda, and at Leeuwarden in the house of correction (Kanselary) a rich example in brick and stone, with a remarkable stepped gable in the centre having statues on its steps. Both in Belgium and Holland there are numerous examples of domestic architecture in brick with quoins and tracery in stone, in both cases alternating with brick courses and arch voussoirs and with infinite variety of design. (R. P. S.)
End of Article: ROMANESQUE AND GOTHIC IN BELGIUM AND
[back]
ROMANESQUE AND GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE IN
[next]
SAMUELE ROMANIN (18o8-1861)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.