ABBOT SUGER -father of Gothic architecture -Part IV

Post 741 -by Gautam Shah

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53 Abbot_Suger

6 Plan of Abbey of st Denis showing original structure with multiple alterations in stages


6 Abbey Saint-Denis After, Abbot Suger’s death —


Suger had close relationship with the Royals. He was consulted on many issues of governance and political nature. His administrative and oratory skills were admired. He was appointed as the Regent of France, and asked to look after the royal administration, when the King, Louis VII, departed to join the Second Crusade. The construction on Saint-Denis came to near stand still.

63 IInd Crusade and Louis VII BattleOfInab

When Abbot Suger died in 1151, the western and eastern ends of the abbey were ready, but new Nave had only the foundations ready. St Denis abbey remained incomplete entity for eighty years. In 1231, Abbot Odo Clement, began work on the rebuilding of the Nave, and redefinition of upper structure of Suger’s Choir. The Nave and Choir were completed fifty years later, in 1281. The Nave with extensive glass windows and thin columns in Rayonnant Gothic style were awe inspiring. The spatial style became a trend setter for sacred church spaces across Europe. After 13th C very few changes occurred in the Abbey of St Denis, however some adjunct structures were built between 1701 and 1781.

64 sainte chapelle Flickr Image 1128995_960_720

Rayonnant Gothic architecture did not offer much in structural improvements. Builders were less concerned with rationalizing the structure, as the space perception was now an emerging issue. In a later phase of Rayonnant Gothic, the builders adopted geometrical patterns, which, over the years were to become complex. New architectural features such as mouldings, piers, rose windows, pinnacles and window traceries were added.

65 Flamboyant rib vaulting of Segovia Cathedral, nave (1525–1577)

66 Saint-Stephen Cathedral in a Rayonnant Gothic style https flickr.com photos 15216811 at N06 22681961873

A third style of Gothic architectural design emerged around 1280. It was known as Flamboyant Gothic architecture. This was even more decorative than Rayonnant, and continued until about 1500 AD. The Flamboyant Gothic architecture was superfluous imposition of patterns. The tracery patterns had S-shaped flame-like curve motifs. Such motifs were imposed on masonry and other architectural elements.

62 Underground Vaults Crypts https www.flickr comphotospelegrino 3724500005

The Structures perceived for St Denis Abbey were radically different well planned, but executed in haste. There were many underground vaults. The vaults were not substantial enough to bear the weight of the choir, so collapsed, (there was no mathematical calibration system, structures were designed through experience). These were replaced within a hundred years. Similarly, thin ambulatory columns required heavier replacement.

67 Choir Ambulatory, Basilica of St. Denis by Abbot Suger 1140-44 Paris https www.flickr.com photos profzucker 7227722006

Suger’s successor, Abbot Eudes Clement, constructed a large new transept to replace the Carolingian nave with two important innovations. First, the old piers supporting the roof were replaced by pillars. Two, very large rose windows entirely filled the upper ends of the transepts.

68 Buttress Supports on Outside St Denis

It is believed that Abbot Odo, with the approval of the Regent Blanche of Castile and her son, the young King Louis IX, planned for the new nave and its large crossing to have a much clearer focus as the French ‘royal necropolis or burial place. That plan was fulfilled in 1264 under Abbot Matthew of Vendôme, when the bones of 16 former kings and queens were relocated into new tombs arranged around the crossing, eight Carolingian monarchs to the south and eight Capetians to the north.

The Abbey of Saint-Denis (1140) in Paris, was one of the earliest surviving Gothic structures. Other, near contemporary churches, were Notre-Dame de Paris (1163-1345) and Laon Cathedral (1112-1215). Gothic structures evolved out of Romanesque ones and lasted from the mid 12th C to late 16th C, in some parts of Germany.

78 Interior of the Laon cathedral Wikipedia Image by Szilas

78 Laon Cathedral (from North-East) 78 Interior of the Laon cathedral Wikipedia Image by Szilas https www.flickr.com photos cuthbertian 2083912005

7 Abbey Saint-Denis the changes in Glass —

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70 St Denis Rode window South Face Wikipedia Image by Zairon

Suger Abbot had marked preference for Blue and Red colour in stained glass compositions. The colours (Red -jasper Blue -sapphire), were the representations of passion, holy blood, and the colour of heaven, respectively. These two colours were too dark for interior spaces. During daytime the stained glasses on the exteriors are dead grey, and at night time the interiors are lifeless (in absence of significant street illumination). This required lighter and fewer colour shades, leading to adoption of Grisaille (monochrome) glass.

71 Basilica of St Denis, France chapel of the Virgin

The use of a light-coloured grisaille, and white backgrounds, became more common in the 14th C. The stained glasses were over-painted and overlaid with fine traceries that emulated the curves in the compositions. The figures in the composition though in colours, the backgrounds were in white glass to allow more light. The lancet or narrow windows had a single figure, accentuating the vertical. The quality of the glass became much better, due to the improvements in the materials and the process of glass-blowing. The white glass became lighter in weight and more translucent. The interior walls were increasingly covered with dense tracery and decorations, competing with the windows.

72 Patron sponsored Glass St Denis https www.pxfuel.com en free-photo-qdolw

The patrons were frequently pictured in the windows that they funded, praying or in the case of the craft guilds, shown at work. In the 12th and 13th C, the practice became very common. Donors like bakers, butchers, tanners, furriers, money-changers, and other professions were shown at work. There was marked preference for geometric motifs in areas with little religious importance. Many of the later day replacement have such motifs and lighter colours.

73 Later day work of staine glass but lighter colour built on the traditions of Suger's work Details https www flickr.com photos profzucker 7227725174

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8 Abbey Saint-Denis during French Revolution —

77 The violation of the royal tombs in 1793 French Revolution depicted by Hubert Robert

Catholic Entity, the Abbey of Saint-Denis, was a victim of French Revolution. Due to its connections with the French monarchy and proximity to Paris, the abbey of Saint-Denis was a prime target of revolutionary vandalism. The anger was marked against the royal tombs. The tombs were opened and all the remains were dumped into mass unmarked graves. The cellars and building parts were used as grain storage. Its many architectural parts were damaged, destroyed or stripped off. Last service was held on Friday, 14 September 1792, and the order was dissolved the next day.

74 The looting of the church in 1793, by Friedrich Staffnick.png

75 The grand transept of Cluny III - Cluny Abbey - The Chapel of Saint Martial https www.flickr.com photos ell-r-brown 3576335763958425

In 1790 during the French Revolution, the abbey was sacked and mostly destroyed, with only a small part of the Abbey surviving. Cluny Abbey was wiped off the map. Founded in 910, Cluny had been the largest church in Christendom until the completion of St. Peter’s 700 years later.

The revolutionary government, ordered the violation of the sepulchre, but agreed to set up a commission for identifying the monuments of historical interest for preservation. The church structure remained, ‘but was deconsecrated, its treasury confiscated and its reliquaries and liturgical furniture melted down for their metallic value. Some objects, including a chalice and aquamanile donated to the abbey in Suger’s time, were successfully hidden and survive to this day’.

The church was deconsecrated by Napoleon in 1806, and he appointed François Debret to restore the church as his family mausoleum. He added new windows to the transept depicting the renovation. The church was officially granted the status of ‘cathedral’ in 1966. It is now the world’s largest museum of medieval and Renaissance statuary. ‘Basilica’ is an honorary title given to many of the churches of all eras, popular for pilgrimage. A cathedrals are of superior rank.

76 Rue saint denis in Paris

75 Thomas Girtin 1775–1802 Aqua tinted Rue Saint-Denis in Paris

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ABBOT SUGER -father of Gothic architecture -Part III


Post 740 -by Gautam Shah

5 Abbot Suger and formation of Gothic Structure —

43 Basic features of the Gothic architecture, like Rib Vaults, Pointed arches, thin ribbed columns and height Ambulatory Vaulting, Basilica of St. Denis https www flickr com photos pro7227729490

Basic features of the Gothic architecture, like Rib Vaults, Pointed arches, thin ribbed columns and height, were in use before, but for the first time, all were assembled together. The density and darkness of the Romanesque buildings were due to the heavy load bearing walls required to support the masonry domes. The heavy walls also accommodated the displacement thrusts within their thickness. The heavy walls could not rise up to great heights.

36 The sense of Vertical The ceiling at the crossing, St. Denis https www flickr.com photos scottgunn 28857102347 b81658603a_c

Suger recognised the value of, than sporadically used concept of flying buttresses. Sugar also saw that buttresses placed outside the enclosure skin, made the interiors free of heavy walls. The technical improvements of external buttresses and pointed arch-based vaults reduced the ‘self or dead load’ on columns. The enclosure skin or exterior walls were more or less replaced with columns. These schemes created greater height and larger windows.

38 The apse or East side of Cathedral with flying buttresses in 1878

44 Reformed Nave Basilica St Denis France Paris Wikipedia Image by Britchi Mirela

37 Basilica of Saint-Denis, Paris, interior Wikipedia Image by Rita1234

The significance of Saint-Denis, then, was not that its master builders pioneered the new forms of construction, it was simply the first time that they were used together with the intention of creating a markedly different effect than that which prevailed in the abbey’s Romanesque contemporaries. By skillfully combining these pre-existing threads, a new architectural creation was created.

41 Abbaye de Saint-Denis years 1140-1144 1231-1281 httpswww.flickr.comphotospsulibscollections5781829546 cd246320b8_k

Gothic style as it evolved had the columns and the vaults. The new features, like, rib, pointed arches, and column to column windows, all accentuated the verticality. The Gothic architecture intentionally maximized the lightness of the space through height. The abbot was deeply affected by the results of his own alterations and ‘wished to reinforce the same through artistic glass works’.

39 Gothic vaulting reduced the roof loads and use of pointed arch and vaults allowed equal roof height for all span widths. St. Denis https www flickr.com photos scottgunn 28857101797

In the first phase Sugar had to see that during the construction original structure remained substantially functional. The original Romanesque nave, the central space was kept intact. Suger added two bays (of 3 spans and 3 stories each) on new western front entrance, and a new Narthex, with 4 additional bays. The new western extension was completed in 1140. As construction of the western façade was completed, the most important and emotional section for the pilgrims and rulers was taken up. Crypts now had an airy, illuminated and wider space, which made it less suffocating and easy to move area.

42 Map of the tombs in Saint Denis Basilica

https://uk.tourisme93.com/basilica/map-of-the-tombs-saint-denis-basilica.html

46 Cathedral Basilica of Saint-Denis, Royal burial place for French Kings and Queens https www.flickr.com photos ninara 24596301962

‘About forty-two kings, thirty-two queens, sixty-three princes and princesses and ten loyal servants of the kingdom were buried in the Basilica of Saint Denis until the nineteenth century. The kings’ necropolis is one of the most important funerary monuments in the world. This was not always the case. Indeed, the Abbey in Saint-Denis was confronted with competition, especially from Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and only got recognition thanks to the obstinacy of Abbot Suger and the support of the Capetian dynasties’.

It was largely due to Suger, in the 12th C, the Basilica became a principal sanctuary of French Royalty. It was equally important place, like Reims Cathedral, where the Kings were crowned.

47 Basilique Saint Denis Model Wikipedia Image by Arnaud 25

To reconstruct such an important place, with a new structure (of double rows of columns + exterior colonnaded wall) was politically and religiously very risky decision. The old structure was preserved till the new 3 parts ribbed roof vaults became ready. The new external wall was full of stained glasses. The improvised new walls of stained glass, reduced the wall area, to minimum. This was completed after Suger’s death, and was known as Rayonnant Gothic or style Decorated Gothic.

48 Very difficult scheme of erecting new columns preserving the old ones for a while Ambulatory at St. Denis https www.flickr.com photos scottgunn 43745511422

Suger was able to design and strategize the first church in the Gothic style. He exploited the stained glass windows in St. Denis as a mural art to depict stories and messages far more brilliantly than the original Romanesque mosaic murals. The rich and famous, now wanted to contribute and participate in the reconstruction. They wanted their names to be included, and also suggested the themes for the compositions. This offered St. Denis huge sum.

49 Stained glass _window in the Basilica of Saint Denis Paris France

The themes of stained glass windows were of three types, dominantly religious, secular or ornamental. First two group are mixed, but the ornamental themes had entire surface.

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Suger had planned twin towers on west end, but, in his life, time only the southern one was completed. The northern tower was finished by one of his successors. The south one, twice faced lightening strikes in 1219 and 1837. It remained incomplete ever since.

51 Saint-Denis Basilique Fassade Wikipedia Image by Zairon

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