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Title: The Brochure Series of Architectural Illustration, vol. 06, No. 6, June 1900
 - The Duomo and the Campanile: Florence, Grotesques from
 - Notre Dame, Paris.
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Brochure Series of Architectural Illustration, vol. 06, No. 6, June 1900
 - The Duomo and the Campanile: Florence, Grotesques from
 - Notre Dame, Paris." ***

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                          THE BROCHURE SERIES
                     The Duomo and the Campanile:
                  Grotesques from Notre Dame, Paris.
                              JUNE, 1900


                            BROCHURE SERIES

                      1900.      JUNE      No. 6.


"It was in the middle of the thirteenth century," writes Symonds,
"during the long struggle for independence carried on by the republics
of Lombardy and Tuscany against the Empire and the nobles, that some of
the most durable and splendid public works were executed. The domes and
towers of Florence and of Pisa were rising above the city walls, while
the burghers who subscribed for their erection were staining the waves
of Meloria and the cane-brakes of the Arbia with their blood. Sismondi
remarks with just pride, that these great works were republican. They
were set on foot for the public use, and were constructed at the
expense of the commonwealths. It is, however, right to add that what
the communes had begun the princes continued. The Despots held their
power at the price of magnificence in schemes of public utility. So
much at least of the free spirit of the communes survived in them, that
they were always rivalling each other in great works of architecture.
Italian tyranny implied æsthetic taste and liberality of expenditure."

"In the year 1294," wrote Giovanni Villani, who was a youth in Florence
at the time, "the city of Florence being in a state of tranquility,
the citizens agreed to rebuild the chief church, which was very rude
in form and in small proportion to such a city, and that it should be
enlarged, and that it should be made all of marble and with carven
figures. And the foundation was laid on the day of St. Mary, in
September, by the Cardinal Legate of the Pope, in the presence of all
the ranks of the Signory of Florence. And it was consecrated to the
honor of God and St. Mary, under the name of St. Mary of the Flower
(Santa Maria del Fiore). And for the building of the church taxes were
ordered, and the Legate and bishops bestowed great indulgences and
pardons to everyone who should contribute aid and alms to the work."

The design for the new cathedral was entrusted to Arnolfo di Cambio,
who was at that time the official architect of the Commune of
Florence,--a remarkable man to whom Florence in a great measure owes
her present physiognomy; for not only are the tower of the Palazzo
Vecchio, Santa Croce and the bulk of the Duomo his, but Giotto's
Campanile, Brunelleschi's cupola and the church of Or San Michele are
placed where he had planned.


In the design for Santa Croce, Arnolfo had shown a preference for the
Gothic forms, then newly imported into Italy, and he now projected
a design for the new Cathedral in which the pointed should take the
place of the round arch, the stone vaulted roof should be substituted
for the flat timber ceiling, and the façade should form a splendid
screen, adorned with gable and pinnacle, rich with carving, glowing
with mosaics and shining with gold. That the Florentines approved his
project is evident from a decree passed before the work had been long
in progress, in which "Master Arnolfo" is declared to be exempt from
any civic tax during his life, because of his design for the Cathedral,
"since" reads the Chronicle, "judging from the magnificent and visible
beginnings of the new church, the Commune and people of Florence are
like to have a more beautiful and honorable temple than any other in
the region of Tuscany."

But before the work had far advanced the building came almost to a
standstill, for the strife of parties, which had been but temporarily
smothered, broke out anew in Florence, and for some thirty years work
on the Cathedral was suspended. Meantime Arnolfo had died, but he left
the building so far advanced that his successors would find little
difficulty in continuing the main parts of the construction according
to his design.

In 1331, however, a portion of the communal tax was set apart for the
prosecution of the work, and Giotto di Bondone, already the most famous
painter of all Italy, was appointed architect of the Cathedral. "It is
not often," says Mrs. Jameson, "that a man takes up a new trade when he
is approaching sixty, or even goes into a new path out of his familiar
routine. But Giotto seems to have turned without a moment's hesitation
from his paints and panels to the less easily wrought materials of
the builder and sculptor, without either faltering from the great
enterprise or doubting his own power to do it."

"To his new charge," writes Mr. C. E. Norton, "Giotto gave himself with
the effectual ardor of genius. No written record of his work on the
Duomo remains, but the walls themselves seem to bear witness to it.
Stretches on the north and south, running eastward from the façade,
more beautiful in composition and design than the later work joined to
it, may be assigned with probability to the period of his oversight.

"But Giotto's labor was not limited to the Duomo alone. He now designed
and speedily began the construction of the most exquisite building
of modern times, the one in which the quality of classic art is most
completely and beautifully harmonized with the spirit and fancy of
modern times. The unsurpassed bell-tower of the Duomo, known and
admired by all men as the Campanile of Giotto, is the most splendid
memorial of the arts of Florence. In 1334, scarcely three months after
his appointment, the foundations of the Campanile were laid with great
pomp and ceremony. The tower, so quickly begun, was so vigorously
lifted that it may have reached somewhat more than a third of its
proposed height, when in 1337 Giotto died." He was buried in the
unfinished Cathedral on the side nearest the Campanile.

"In its first appeal to the stranger's eye," says Mr. Ruskin in writing
of the Campanile, "there is something unpleasing; a mingling, it seems
to him, of over severity with over minuteness. But let him give it
time, as he should all other consummate art. I remember well how, when
a boy, I used to despise that Campanile, and think it meanly smooth and
finished. But I have since lived beside it many a day, and looked out
upon it from my windows by sunlight and moonlight, and I shall not soon
forget how profound and gloomy appeared to me the savageness of the
Northern Gothic when I afterwards stood, for the first time, beneath
the front of Salisbury. The contrast is indeed strange, if it could
be quickly felt, between the rising of those gray walls out of their
quiet swarded space, like dark and barren rocks out of a green lake,
and that bright, smooth, sunny surface of glowing jasper, those spiral
shafts and fairy traceries, so white, so faint, so crystalline, that
their slight shapes are hardly traced in darkness on the pallor of the
eastern sky, that serene height of mountain alabaster, colored like a
morning cloud and chased like a sea shell. And this, I believe to be
the model and mirror of perfect architecture...."

[Illustration: PLATE XLV      REAR OF THE DUOMO]

"Considerable size exhibited by simple terminal lines; projection
towards the top; breadth of flat surface; square compartments of
that surface; varied and visible masonry; vigorous depth of shadow,
exhibited especially by pierced traceries; varied proportion in
ascent; lateral symmetry; sculpture most delicate at the base;
enriched quantity of ornament at the top; sculpture abstract in
inferior ornaments and mouldings, complete in animal forms, both to be
executed in white marble; vivid colors introduced in flat geometrical
patterns, and obtained by the use of naturally colored stone,--these
characteristics occur more or less in different buildings, some in one,
some in another--but all together and all in their highest possible
relative degrees, they exist, as far as I know, only in one building in
the world, the Campanile of Giotto."

[Illustration: WINDOW      THE CAMPANILE]

After Giotto's death there is a wide gap in the annals of the Duomo,
for in 1348 the great plague desolated Florence, and the work came to a
standstill. After it had passed, however, there followed, as a natural
consequence, a sudden outbreak of pious superstition. Immense sums had
been bequeathed by dying men to the Church to purchase salvation; and
the Duomo, begun sixty years before, seemed hardly to correspond with
the demands of the present age. It was accordingly resolved to adopt
a new design for it on a grander scale than that planned by Arnolfo;
and while the breadth was to remain the same, the height and length
were to be increased, and the eastern end of the church to be larger.
The oversight of the work was entrusted to Francesco di Talenti, and
in 1357 the new foundations were begun. The main forms of the new
building were, in great part, determined by such of the old structure
of Giotto's time as was left standing, and by the original scheme of
Arnolfo. But the taste of the age had changed, and in grafting the
newly arisen classical ideas upon the original, the architects achieved
a result which was neither good Gothic nor good Classic. For some years
the work was now carried slowly but steadily forward, and in 1407 the
eastern tribune with its five chapels was completed, and the work was
ready to be crowned by a dome.

But here a great difficulty was encountered. The increase in the
original dimensions and the height of the walls had made it necessary
to span an enormous space, for the diameter of the octagon to be
covered was now one hundred and thirty-five feet. The records of
architecture could show no such dome as this must be. The overseers of
the work were confounded, and knew not how to proceed; and, in their
desperation made a public proclamation in 1418, that whoever wished,
might make a model for the dome, or of anything pertaining to its
construction. Fifteen models were presented, and over them there were
months of public deliberation and discussion. It was not until March,
1420, that a final conclusion was reached, and the celebrated plan of
Filippo Brunelleschi was adopted.

No more characteristic or remarkable design was produced during
the whole period of the Renaissance than this, with which its
great architectural achievements began. Not only were apparently
insurmountable difficulties of construction overcome, but the new dome
was also to be a masterpiece of beauty. The great domes of former
times--the dome of the Pantheon, the dome of Aya Sophia--had been
designed solely for their interior effect; they were not impressive or
noble structures from without. But Brunelleschi had conceived a dome
which, grand in its interior aspect, should be even more superb from
without, and which, in its stately dimensions and proportions, in its
magnificent lift above all the other edifices of the city of which it
formed the centre, in its absolute unity and symmetry, in the beautiful
shape and proportions of its broad divisions, the strong, simple energy
of its upwardly converging lines, should be such that, more than a
century later, when Michelangelo was told that he had an opportunity to
surpass it in his cupola of St. Peter's at Rome, he replied sadly, with
a shake of his head,--

    "_Io farò la sorella
        Più grande già; ma non più bella!_"

    "I will make her sister dome
        Larger, indeed, but not more beautiful!"

Brunelleschi's plan was to build _two_ octagonal domes, separated by a
space wide enough for a passage and stairways, and united by eight
strong ribs of masonry at the angles. The inner and smaller dome was
for constructive purposes, to bridge the vault and to furnish a support
for the outer, which was to be merely a light shell to secure the
magnificent swelling lines. The whole was to be crowned by a lantern.
We have not space to quote Vasari's animated account of Brunelleschi's
difficulties in persuading the authorities of the practicability of his
plan, of his jealous bickerings with his troublesome and incompetent
confrère, Ghiberti, of the obstacles, difficulties and persecutions
that he underwent,--suffice it to say that, in 1434, under his untiring
supervision, just fourteen years from its beginning, the splendid dome
closed over the central space of the Duomo, and Brunelleschi's fame was
forever established.


Without waiting for the completion of the cupola and lantern, the
Florentines took advantage of the presence in their city of Pope
Eugenius IV., to have him consecrate the Cathedral in person, with most
impressive ceremony, on the Florentine New Year's day, the feast of the
Annunciation, March 25, 1436.

Not long after the consecration of the Duomo, the work on the cupola
was completed (August, 1436), and to the fulfilment of Brunelleschi's
plan remained only the construction of a surmounting lantern. But for
some undiscovered reason there was delay for year after year, and it
was fated that Brunelleschi should not see the completion of his work,
for "finally," says Vasari, "Filippo Brunelleschi being now very old,
that is sixty-nine years old in the year 1446, on the 16th of April,
went to a better life, after having toiled greatly in the performance
of works which made him deserve on earth an honored name, and obtain
in heaven an abode of peace." More than twenty years passed after
Brunelleschi's death before the lantern was at last completed. On the
23d of April, 1467, the last and highest stone was set.

Meantime, not until some twenty years after the death of Giotto had
work on the unfinished façade been recommenced. The design for it,
which was Gothic, with columns and niches containing statues of the
Madonna and Child, of saints and prophets, and even of distinguished
Florentine citizens, was the joint composition of several architects,
among them Orcagna, Gaddi and Tommasi. But this façade had only reached
one-third of the height of the edifice, when, for some unexplained
reason it was abandoned, and remained in an unfinished state until
the reign of the Grand Duke Francis I. (1575-1587), when it was
demolished to make way for the accomplishment of a new design, one
which was, however, never executed; and the whole face of the Cathedral
remained a bare expanse of rubble and cement until, in 1689, it was
painted and frescoed to represent columns and other architectural
decorations. Shortly after Tuscany was incorporated with the kingdom
of Italy, the Florentine municipality again took up the matter, and
invited architects to submit designs for a new façade. The design
of Commendatore de Fabris, a Florentine, was selected. In 1875 the
scaffolding was erected, and white marble from Seravezza, red marble
from Montiere and green marble from Prato were brought to Florence to
begin the façade which now exists, and which was completed and unveiled
in 1887.


Writing of the Duomo as a whole, Mr. C. E. Norton says: "Its size
gives it dignity, and its effect is powerful from the simplicity and
largeness of its design. A nave of four enormous bays is stopped upon
a vast octagonal space, from which, at the east, the north, and the
south, are built out three pentagonal tribunes or apses, which, as
seen on the outside, give to the church the common cruciform shape.
The proportions of the interior are on an enormous scale, by which the
apparent size of the building is diminished rather than increased.
There is nothing either in the general conception or in the working-out
of the details which corresponds with that principle, characteristic of
the best Northern Gothic, of complex organization, in which each minor
part contributes to the vital unity of the whole edifice. The Duomo
presents, on the contrary, an assemblage of separate vast features
arbitrarily associated, rather than united by any law of mutual
relation into a completely harmonious whole. It does not display that
lavish wealth of fancy in ever-changing variety and abundance of detail
which gives inexhaustible charm to a true Gothic edifice. But it is
impressive within from its vast open spaces, and from the stately and
simple, though barren, grandeur of its piers and vaults and walls.


"The effect of the building from without is imposing from its mass,
but, in a near view, it is only on the east that the lines compose
into forms of beauty. The side walls are incrusted, after the old
Tuscan style, with simple rectangular patterns of white and red marble,
interrupted by the rich decoration of gable and pinnacle over the doors
and windows.


"It is when seen from a distance that the full worth and power of the
great Cathedral force themselves upon the beholder. Looking down upon
Florence from one of the neighboring heights, the beautiful city seems
to lie gathered under the shelter of its mighty Duomo. The stretch of
its wall is ample for the house in which the whole people shall gather,
and, lifting itself above the clustering towers and belfries of palaces
and churches, the unrivalled dome crowns the edifice, and with its
noble elliptic lines not merely concentrates the scattered forms of the
buildings beneath and around it far and near, but to the inward eye
seems equally to concentrate all the divergent energies of the historic
life of Florence, and lift them along its curves to the foot of the
cross upon its heaven-reaching summit. It seems of equal date with the
mountains that close the background to the landscape of which it forms
the central interest; and they seem to look down upon this work of man
as one not unworthy of their guardianship."



                        from Notre Dame, Paris.

The representation of physical beauty being with the Gothic carver
subordinated to the purpose of enforcing the idea that the soul is
superior to the body, and of illustrating the doctrine of the salvation
of the soul by goodness of life, and the loss of the soul by evil
life, it was necessary that beings and objects not beautiful should
enter into his sculptured ornamental schemes. The evils that beset the
lives and tempt the souls of men had to be in some way set forth, no
less than the human virtues and the heavenly ideals. The unhappy lot
of the wicked had to be figured as well as the felicities of the good.
Hence figures which embody the mediæval notions of the monstrous and
the grotesque are conspicuous elements in Gothic sculpture, especially
after the beginning of the thirteenth century. The grotesque, in the
finest Gothic art, while often apparently introduced in a playful
spirit, had thus primarily a serious purpose.

[Illustration: GROTESQUE      NOTRE DAME, PARIS]


The Romanesque imagery, consisting of fantastic creations of animal
life which embodied distorted traditions of the Roman mythology,
combined with forms originating in the rude imagination of the Northern
races, was largely rejected by the early Gothic artists. The imaginary
creatures which they sometimes introduced were, for the most part,
confined to the symbolic animals of the Bible--such as those seen by
St. John in the Apocalypse. But by degrees other imaginary creations
were introduced, until finally, during the thirteenth century, the
grotesque animal life of the Gothic edifice became even more extended
in range than that of the richest Romanesque monuments had been, and
an imaginary fauna was created, which, while it derived much from the
older conceptions, embodied so much that was new as to constitute a
distinctly Gothic class. This development grew primarily out of the
old popular belief in the symbolic character of animals and imaginary
creatures. As symbols of human qualities, both good and evil, these
animals, real and imaginary, were now wrought, for encouragement and
for warning, upon the stones of the sacred edifice. A further purpose
of this fauna, as of the sculpture of the human figure and the flora
with which it was associated, apparently was that the Gothic monument
might present a compendious illustration of the known world of
creation, imagination and faith.

[Illustration: GROTESQUE      NOTRE DAME, PARIS]

[Illustration: GROTESQUE      NOTRE DAME, PARIS]

A remarkable quality of the grotesque creations of Gothic art is the
close and accurate observation of nature which they, no less than the
images of real things, display. However fabulous the imagined creature
may be, the materials out of which he is made are derived from nature,
and manifest a keen appreciation of animal structure. Vertebra or
claw, wing or beak, eye or nostril, throat or paw,--every anatomical
member displays an intimate familiarity with real organic form and
function, and an imaginative sense of its possible combinations in
creative design. Take, for instance, those strange beasts, or
terrible demons of the parapet of the Cathedral of Paris. Each of
them seems animated with a living spirit, and has an almost startling
appearance of reality. And besides this lifelikeness and functional
truth, a highly ornamental play of lines, and a subtle elaboration of
finely modelled surfaces, are shown in these grotesque forms. In the
early and early mature periods they exhibit a noticeable restraint
of posture and movement; extravagantly contorted forms and violent
movements occur, for the most part, only in the decline of Gothic, when
jaded sensibilities had ceased to appreciate the value of moderation in
design.--CHARLES H. MOORE: "_Gothic Architecture_."

                   *       *       *       *       *

In addition to Notre Dame at Paris, the churches of Rheims, Amiens,
Rouen, Laon, Vézelay, Auxerre and the religious edifices throughout
Poitou, Saintonge, Guyenne and Burgundy, and the borders of the Loire,
in France are rich in examples of grotesque animal sculpture.



[Illustration: PLATE L      THE CAMPANILE]

                          Transcriber's Note:

Italics are indicated by _underscores_.

Small capitals have been rendered in full capitals.

A number of minor spelling errors have been corrected without note.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Brochure Series of Architectural Illustration, vol. 06, No. 6, June 1900
 - The Duomo and the Campanile: Florence, Grotesques from
 - Notre Dame, Paris." ***

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