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Gothic on the Edge: Light, Levitation and Seismic Culture in the Evolution of Medieval Religious Architecture of the Eastern Mediterranean

O'Neill, Rory Owen

The works of Latin ecclesiastical architecture of the 13th and 14th centuries at the periphery of Gothic geography in the eastern Mediterranean have been thought to be provincial. The party line is that the Gothic system developed in France, and shortly thereafter appeared in England, Germany and Spain with relatively good fidelity; however, the elegance of this system of attenuated vertical structure got lost in translation when exported to Mediterranean regions such as Italy and the Latin states in the mainland Levant, Greece, Rhodes and Cyprus. We question this center-and-periphery conceptualization of Gothic by focusing on the works at the most distant of the Gothic horizon, the mainland Levant and Cyprus, to find that the desires of the patrons and builders were similar to those in France, but constrained more by seismic geography than remoteness from the center of production in the Paris basin. These Levantine and Cypriot buildings on the so-called periphery have much to teach us of the precarious nature of Gothic architecture and why such an art of levitation and light cast in heavy stone vaults was able to flourish in Île-de-France, among other places.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Murray, Stephen D.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2015