French Gothic Architecture speaks to what is French Gothic and define French Gothic and began in France in the middle of the nineteenth century. Its best known proponent was architect was Eugene Emanuel Viollet le Duc who lived 1814 to 1879. It was he who drew attention to the structural logic of French medieval architecture and he argued that progress towards a new non-historical style would be achieved when more attention was given to the structure of buildings.
Influential in the creation of this style was when the Cathedral of Cologne in Germany was completed. It had remained unfinished since the Middle Ages and work again started in 1856 using the original medieval plans. The completion of the church inspired the construction of St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and this then influenced the design of a number of Catholic churches in North America. It should be noted that the French Gothic Revival was used for religious buildings only.
Staring in the last 25 years of the nineteenth century the Roman Catholic Church adopted for its larger churches and cathedrals scaled down and modified version of the churches of northern France.
These churches favoured a monumental design built within a well ordered framework. The organization was most clearly expressed on the principal facade, where the central entrance portal, the large rose window above and the flanking twin towers are arranged within the squares of a rectangular grid. The grid controls the design and scale of each element.
Most buildings have a T shaped ground plan consisting of an arcaded nave and side aisles, short transept arms and a polygonal apse. The structural organization of the high interiors is often delineated by plaster ribs and shafts, which run from the apex of the roof down to the nave arcade.
The interior decoration can be very ornate and colourful, particularly in the sanctuary where the high altar stands. This revival was primarily the domain of the Roman Catholic Church who thought that medieval architecture had become too identified with the Anglican Church.
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