ABBOT SUGER -father of Gothic architecture -Part IV

Post 741 -by Gautam Shah


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 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 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 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 photos cuthbertian 2083912005

7 Abbey Saint-Denis the changes in Glass —


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 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 photos profzucker 7227725174

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 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


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 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 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 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

46 Cathedral Basilica of Saint-Denis, Royal burial place for French Kings and Queens https 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 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.


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


ABBOT SUGER -father of Gothic architecture -Part II

Post 739 -by Gautam Shah

Part II of series IV
4 Abbot Suger and Ideas on Illumination —

27 The The interior illumination and the new expanse of the space, was perceived as the metaphysical light or Christ’s divinity, not available anywhere else. https photos scottgunn 2885710162

Suger, understood lux, as the external light, shining outside the cathedral, coming directly from the sun and nature. This was for everyone, ‘even the heretic and the wicked’. But, once it entered through the windows, it emitted in all directions, and transformed into lumen. It is a new metaphysical light through the tinted glass. This interior light was consecrated and holy, for ‘faith and divine inspiration’. The interior illumination and the new expanse of the space, was perceived as the metaphysical light or Christ’s divinity, not available anywhere else. The new ethereal wall and the illumination functioned much like the ancient temenos, a sanctimonious precinct. ‘Walk in the light, as He is in the light’.

28 Interior of Saint-Denis Wikipedia Image by Gilles Messian

Suger could, somehow, visualize three different Latin terms for Light: Lux, Lumen and Illumination. (The Three terms, perhaps derived from a book* by Avicenna, the Muslim philosopher and physician of 11th C). *Kitab al Shifa =’The Book of Healing or Latin title Sufficientiae’. This was a voluminous philosophical and scientific treatise or encyclopaedia. It covered, topics like logic, natural sciences, psychology, (the quadrivium or four subjects like, geometry, astronomy, mathematics besides music, and metaphysics).

29 Predominance of Blue- Red by Suger The heart of the sanctuary glows in splendour, which is united in splendour, radiates in splendour. Detail of 12th C glass, St. Denis https photos scottgun.

Coloured glass had long been understood as a surrogate for the precious stones. It has been in use even before the Gothic era. The exploitation of colour contrasts (Red -jasper Blue -sapphire, where the red represented the passion, holy blood, and the blue, as the colour of heaven) was rather new interpretation. Incidentally, these two colours, form nearly the opposite ends of the visual spectrum.

29-1 Saint Denis Basilique Saint Denis Wikipedia Image by Pierre Poschadel

Delighted with the effect of light, Suger, inside the abbey church, engraved an inscription to the glory of Light. ‘The heart of the sanctuary glows in splendour, which is united in splendour, radiates in splendour’. He also said that ‘while light is necessary for the worthy glorification of God, the largest possible number of the faithful must also be able to pray without jostling, to approach and contemplate the Holy Relics on feast days’.

30 Inside view of stained glass, St. Denis Cathedral, St. Denis, France, upper choir Wikipedia Image by Ninaras

Suger transformed the cathedral space into a different place. ‘It was to like bringing heaven on earth’. He wrote, ‘the multicolored loveliness of the gems has transported me from material to immaterial things, sapphire glass of intense blue colour as having the same importance as gems.’ He identified the best Glass makers across Europe, and sourced the glass raw material for the new construction.

31 Windows light and organ at St Denis https www flickr com photos scottgunn 28857102537

The improvement of quality of glass, its popularity and widespread use occurred in this period, mainly because of reduction of colour tonal intensity resulting in increased transparency. A significant feature to emerge in the 13th C, was the development of grisaille glass windows. It is composed largely of white glass, generally painted with foliage designs, and leaded into complicated geometric patterns. Such glass was cheaper and easier to produce. Its introduction made interiors lighter and other art and architectural features, noticeable.

32 Dull colours and dominance to whites in stained glass allowed architectural features to be visually important Nave of the Basilica of St. Denis, Saint-Denis, France Wikipedia Image by Zairon

The Gothic Colours of stained glass are prone to mis-use in wrong hands. The interiors often became snazzy with too many colours, but of dark shades. During daytime the stained glass on exteriors are dead grey, and at night time the interiors are lifeless (in absence of significant street illumination). This forced adoption of Grisaille (monochrome) glasses.

33 Illustrations and cover of the treaty Diversarum Artium Schedula by Theophilus Presbyter - encyclopedia of technical knowledge in the Middle Ages in the field of art and craftsmanship.

The blown glass had technical imperfections such as air bubbles, striations, and ripples, this made the transparency lively, as the light seemed to refract through the mass. The church interiors were now glowing, not just with the light from expansive stained windows, but altars, crosses, other liturgical objects were all richly embellished with gems, draped with brightly coloured and gold lined fabrics, with the new donations.

35 Construction workers on Site in Bourges Bourges Cathedral Built atop an earlier Romanesque church from 1195 until 1230 Wikipedia Image by Gerd Eichmann

With the Renaissance, the stained glass was to become varied in colours, faultless, flatter, larger, thinner, but less vivid. The glass joints however could now be thinner and sparser. This thin joints were exploited, as less marked lines for zoning of colours, and more for the articulation of the thematic composition.

34 Lighter colours Flamboyant (late Gothic) style windows of the nave of the royal abbey-church of Saint-Ouen, Rouen (early 16th C. Wikipedia Image by Philippe Roudaut

The technique of making stained-glass windows was first documented in the Schedula Diversarum Artium, a compendium of craft-information probably written between 1110 and 1140 by the monk Theophilus.


ABBOT SUGER -father of Gothic architecture -Part I

Post 738 -by Gautam Shah

Part I of series IV



1A St Denis Abbey the cross centre space with high volume and Illumination The Stained Glass scheme of Abbot Suger era were darker but installation- repacements were in whiter background -with few colours

Abbot Suger (1081–1151) was a priest, statesman and good administrator, but was not an Architect (as assumed in the 19th and early 20th C.) And, yet, he has been called the father of Gothic architecture and design innovator. Suger is known for rebuilding of the Abbey of St.-Denis also known as Cathedral Basilica of St Denis, near Paris. The rebuilding included many trend-setting features marking, the emergence of Gothic style over the Romanesque, in France.

1 Abbot Suger -father of Gothic architecture 1081-1151

Suger at the age of 10, came to the Abbey of St.-Denis. He became an Oblate, in 1091, for his education in religion. The Abbey church of St. Denis was established in the late 5th C., to house the relics of St. Denis, a bishop martyred on his mission to convert the Gauls in the 3rd C. Here, at the Abbey, he met the future king Louis VI of France. An epitaph conveys the iron will of Abbot Suger, ‘he was small in physical and social stature, driven by his double smallness, refused, in his smallness, to be small’. Suger served as the friend and counselor for both of Louis VI and Louis VII. He travelled extensively, and had a special relationship with the pope, bishops and kings, serving as adviser to Louis VI and Louis VII.

2 The city and memorable abbey of Saint Denis -Claude Chastillon

Suger became a secretary to the abbot of Saint-Denis, then became provost of Berneval in Normandy and Toury, in 1118. His contacts with Louis VI helped him to go to the court of Pope Gelasius II at Maguelonne (at Montpellier, Gulf of Lyon). He also lived at the court of Calixtus II, as the successor of Gelasius. On his return from Maguelonne, Suger became Abbot of St-Denis. During the following decade, he devoted himself to the reorganization and reform of St-Denis. He began reconstructing the old building in 1135. From 1140 to 1144, ‘in three years, three months and three days’, as he put it, he built a new Chevet.

3 Facade, Basilica of St. Denis flickr image 7227720278

Abbot Roger was a clever politician and smart manager, who used his church position to promote the abbey in public, and thereby enhanced the power of the monarchy. ‘His knowledge of the law, skill for political negotiations, influential contacts and oratory skills’, were his assets. Suger needed political clout and huge amounts to build such a structure. He was the favoured person of the king. He was consulted for many other things by the French state. He oversaw the royal administration, when the King Louis VII was absent on the Crusades. King appointed him to serve as the Regent of France.

4 City Map of St Denis cathedral in Paris

Suger was the coordinator or convener of the rebuilding project for the abbey. He was not an architect, but an extra ordinary organizer. He had keen sense of judgement in arts and crafts. There were two architects or master masons, who were technical leaders, but their contributions remain anonymous.

5 City Map of St Denis cathedral in Paris Flicker 43745509662_32fddd29b8_c



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

The site of Abbey of St.-Denis is identified as a Gallo-Roman cemetery of the Roman times. Around, 475 AD. St. Genevieve purchased some land, and built Saint-Denys de la Chapelle. In 636 AD., the relics of Saint Denis (also known as Saint Dionysius), the patron saint of France, were re-interned in the basilica.

7 Saint Denis church, plan various stages of developments

9 St Ddenis image on facade of Notre Dame-cathedral Paris holding his head in hands

8 Louis VII (1120-1180) the Young, King of France Taking the Banner in St. Denis in 1147 - ART by Jean Baptiste Mauzaisse (1784-1844)

The Basilica of St Denis ranks as an architectural landmark and as the first major structure of which a substantial part was re-designed and built in the Gothic style. Both stylistically and structurally, it heralded the change from Romanesque architecture to Gothic architecture. H.W. Janson wrote, ‘The origin of previous style cannot be pinpointed exactly, as the Gothic. It was born between 1137 and 1144 with the rebuilding of the Royal Abbey Church of Saint-Denis by Abbot Suger. Before the term ‘Gothic’ came into common use, it was known as the ‘French Style’ (Opus Francigenum). (The word ‘Gothic’ was first used during the Renaissance period, as an insult, as relating to the uncivilized ancient Goths, Germanic-people documented living near lower Vistula River).


10 Map of the tombs in Saint Denis Basilica

The basilica of Saint-Denis, like many other Christian religious places, was popular for pilgrimage in 12th C. Many churches of Romanesque style of architecture, with their solid forms and barely adequate openings, were suffocating places in warm seasons. It was difficult to manage the large crowds in limited and zoned space. For this reason many processions and festivities were organized out doors. But the crowds wished to visit the crypts that held the remains of the past kings and saints of France.

Abbot Suger

Paris was the principal residence of the Kings and of The Reims Cathedral was used as the place of coronation, and the Abbey of Saint-Denis has been the ceremonial burial place. The visitations by royalty for public adulation helped get support for the church expenses. They lavishly supported the construction and enlargement of abbeys and cathedrals. Suger showed that collaboration between church and state is fundamental to an understanding of the development of the national states of Western Europe.

14 Typical heavy walled - opaque structure of Romanesque Architectre of 11 C Abbaye de Lessay Manche, France, (departement de la Manche) Wikipedia Image Ji-Elle

12 Antoine - Louis - Francois - Sergent - Marceau Portrait of Suger Abbot of St Dennis


15 Abbot Suger Stained Glass image

Suger on assuming the post of Abbot was almost ready with a scheme to redevelop the entire estate of Basilica of St Denis. That included not only the church itself, but also a new refectory, dormitory and domus hospitium (guesthouse like a dormitory) and other structures across the grounds of the abbey. Abbot Suger wanted crowds to participate and fund the redevelopment of the abbey. He had to convince the people and the royalty that larger spaces and better environments for gatherings are required. He knew, the abbey was just too important a national identity and just cannot be demolished to the foundation level for reconstruction. He also had to stay away from sacrosanct areas like the crypt holding the remains of the past kings of France. He planned his project in several plausible phases. He had the foresight that for a project of this nature will need many crafts-persons will be required, and will need to be enticed from far-off places.

16 The crypt at St. Denis

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

18 Oldest tombs in Underground crypt Basilique de Saint-Denis destroyed during French Revolution https photos o_0 30624049031

The West side of the church was about 200 years old, and had only one small entrance door. Suger planned three wide doors to handle large crowds. These doors were like the arches on Constantine in Rome. Early Christian and Byzantine basilicas and churches had such entrance or lobby space, and Sugar adopted the idea. He first took up the building of a new Narthex and entrance Facade, with two towers and a rose window in the centre. The rose window was a first one in France. This was an impressive and a populist step. After Abbot Suger’s death, however, when the rest of the church was rebuilt in a new style, it was provided with extra larger and more decorated rose windows, one on either side.

19 The St Denis Abbey Twin tower of West end was never built fully and the Left one was damaged several times

After the alteration and extension of the West side, It was easy to find sponsors with substantial support. Next, he began to change the East end. Here, Sugar began to implement ideas about illumination. He wanted the space around the altar to be spatially wide and tall. He wanted it to be very light and bright, with the provisions of coloured glass windows. The light and bright East end was ‘given to God’ in 1144. These were well appreciated, and within decades this ‘inventive intervention’ spread throughout all of Europe, where it dominated the architecture for the next two to three hundred years. In the 12th C, Abbot Suger rebuilt portions of the abbey church using innovative structural and decorative features. In doing so, he is said to have created the first truly Gothic building.

20 The NAVE looking towards the westside Entrance, St. Denis 28857102257

22 Choir, Basilica of St. Denis Abbot Suger, Ambulatory, 1140-44, Basilica of St. Denis, Paris https photos profzucker 7227722006

The pair of towers on the west-side were planned under Suger, however only the southern tower was completed in his lifetime. Its taller northern counterpart, was completed by one of his successors, however, did not last. It was rebuilt twice. Suger saw the completion of the western and eastern ends of the abbey. By the time abbot died in 1151, the foundations for the new nave were executed. Work for the Nave with upper works of the Choir resumed in 1231. In 281 the nave was completed. The massive windows and slender masonry were a trend setting Rayonnant Gothic style.

23 A Flicker Image 7227722006_7f5de4a4e2_c

The ground plan of most Gothic churches is typically a cross, formed by a long Nave and crossing it, a shorter Transept. It is this junction that offers a spacious volume. The nave usually has multiple floors on either sides, forming passageways or aisles. The Nave, after the cross junction terminates into a semi-circular or polygonal Eastern end. This liturgical end with the altar is tallest space with many varieties of roof structure. Visually the extensive tall surface being circular or polygonal, competes with the altar for attention. The cross form of the church created four focal areas. Each of these had different size, shape, scale and orientations. Suger had learnt from existing church buildings the purpose of these basic four spaces.

24 At the crossing looking north, St. Denis

25 Cathedral schematic Cross plan

26 Saint Denis church, plan the old & New schemes superimposed It shows how new columns were placed besides the existing ones


ILLUMINATION and COLOURS in SHADOWS -Issues of Design 38

Post 737 -Gautam Shah


This is the FOURTH article on series Illumination and Shadows

1 Claude Monet Garden at Sainte-Adresse 1866-1867

Monet said: ‘A Colour owes its brightness to the force of contrast, rather than to its inherent qualities’. He also said that primary colours look brightest, when they are brought into contrast with their complementaries’.

2 Alexander mosaic Absence of shadows (except at the bottom) by Magrippa at English Wikipedia

Colour contrast has drawn attention in drawn art forms as well as architecture, sculptures, ceramics, textiles and craft items. Colour contrasts emerge, when a different and lighter or darker colour is placed next to the other one. But colour contrasts also emerge, when a colour comes under differing levels of illumination or shadows. This realization was conspicuous in 3D forms. Such colour contrasts perceptions under natural or other illuminations and related shadows are affected by the ‘local’ reflections. The subtle grades of contrasts emerge due to varied brightness, from objects in different directions and in intensities due to many colours of the reflecting surfaces.

Colour Tones

8 Lion hunt. Mosaic from Pella ancient Macedonia) late 4th C BC, depicting Alexander the Great and Craterus. Housed in the Pella Museum

3 Fresco from the villa of P. Fannio Sinistore in Boscoreale, currently located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Colour contrasts were realized, first in mosaic arts as a form of ‘highlighting marks’. To make a mosaic figure or image to stand out from other similar entitles that needed emphasis (wider and darker-lighter edges). But mosaics had limited size and colour range, and this was not easy. Early drawn arts like Mosaics were equally ‘flat’. This was perhaps, as the medium of art Fresco, was a method of pigment impregnation onto wet plasters. The colours were zoned with scratched outlines and had little scope (time) for colour mixing or edge diffusion. Details were added in Tempera, for which one had to wait for the surface to thoroughly dry out. As a result fresco artist, used intense contrasting colours in demarcated zones of the fresco.

4 Terracotta funerary plaque 520–510 B.C.

7 Frescos in Cubiculum -Bedroom from the Villa of P Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale No shadows or Perspective

As the interiors became brighter with larger clerestory windows, there was a clear need to ‘add drama and mystery to the paintings’ through high contrast of colours. Painting themes were now not just depictive but narrative, and in the background included architecture, landscapes and non religious figures (political sponsors and donors). Holy figures were distinguished by bright ‘halo’. These halos and backgrounds, in brighter colours or gold gilding, made everything else seem darker, often gloomy. To lighten the perceived dark effect, many levels of sobered contrasts were added, and the result was a ‘flat’ composition. For the contrasts, the body contours, folds of fabrics, highlighting marks, differences between near-by and far-off objects, were formed of black or darker shades. The use of darker shades, for edge making, however, taught the value of shadowing with illumination.

9 Ajanta Cave 1 Ceremonial bath of Mahajanaka frasco India

10 Little or no use of body contour shadows Scene from Mahajataka King denounces worldly life at Ajanta Cave frescos India AD 475-500 Flickr Image 16580719987 f515f2b6fe_c

The shadows formed better depth contrasts. The shadows (related to illumination) were first placed with respect to the local needs. These ‘local needs’ in theme, created many shadows and sources of illumination, and also had as many directions. But soon shadows were modified as related to single the source of illumination. Such ‘related shadows’ made paintings lively and realistic.

12 ART by Fra Carnevale 1467 Light without source , but the shadows on the right side wall defy the logic.

5-1 Duccio di Buoninsegna Jesus opens the Eyes of a Man born Blind

Single source shadowing was very difficult in mosaic and very large mural paintings. There were few issues here. FIRST, Shadows were predominantly cast with a source of illumination from the left-top corner. This made objects towards the right-bottom corner suffused with long shadows. SECOND, The shadowing style adopted in artworks, did not match the actual illumination from the openings of the architectural space. THIRD, There was the belief that holy figures do not cast a shadow. These factors required a lot of experimentation. First, the problem required a painting to be narrow or the source of illumination shifted away from the extreme top-left corner. Second required a composition in consideration of the existing conditions of the architecture and the viewers’ position. Third issue was solved by forming graduated dark-light areas for body or dress contours and ignoring the shadows falling on the ground.

13 Jacopo Tintoretto's Wedding Feast at Cana at church of Santa Maria della Salute in Venice. The window sides remain dark but the illumination on the table is brilliant

From the days Painted Roman interior Murals, the Perspective was used to arrange ‘built or spatial’ elements in compositions. These were scaled for depth, but not specifically illuminated. Objects with visible sides were made darker towards the receding edge for greater effects of the depth. For greater perspective effect some of the parts of buildings or the spaces between the buildings were back lit, but shadows followed the front-based illumination. Illumination and shadows, did not come together in any purposive manner.

11 Feast in the House of Levi Paolo Veronese 1573 Use of Shadows for depth and contrast

21 Canaletto Venice Capriccio of the Courtyard of the Doges' Palace with the Scala dei Giganti AND 21 Viviano Codazzi and Domenico Gariguolo

It was from 1700s that Capriccio style of art for drawing fantastical architectural buildings and ruins, with inclusion of occasional staffage (figures), truly began to exploit the perspective. Areas of painting were illuminated through a direct single source of illumination or atmospheric distributed light. Areas that did not get illumination were treated to be mildly darker, thus creating a sense of contrast for depth. The illumination and shadows depended on tonal gradation, and this can be recognised and executed, if the areas are fairly large. Tonal gradation cannot be included in micro architectonic elements.


In Asia, perspective did not occur, though some inclined planes indicated the depth. Scaling of elements and figures was extremely illogical. The depth was through spatial zoning, like, frontal areas filled in with elements, dominantly involved in the narrative. The next mid-zone was for supportive elements like architectural and landscape features. The background, was used as a contrasting plane of lighter tones. The ethereal elements included here, served to balance the composition, by their ‘white space’ presence. There was complete absence of graded or directional illumination, and colour shades for shadowing.

16 Multiple sources of Illumination resulting in utter chaos Jacopo Tintoretto Last Supper 1592 1594

16-1 Joseph Wright of Derby 1768 An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump

28 Dramatic Colour Contrast

Illuminated and shaded areas are nominally differentiated with the tonal variations of the same colour (monochrome) or with different hues. But this effect was enhanced by texture contrast of physical roughening of the surface, like the gesso and impasto in art. Gesso is the base or foundation treatment, which imprints a texture on the art surface. Impasto effect is created by laying the paint in very thick layers, so that it can allow brush or painting-knife strokes to be visible.


It was in 1600s that artists were able to create textures, not just by scrapping the surface, but through directional or random texturing, as a simulated visual effect. The directional texturing became art of intaglio or gravure, and became style of impressionist art. The art of texturing a surface, also became Sfumato style of art, as forming a soft transition between colours and tones to achieve distinct realism.

17 Georgio de Chirico Shadows (without tonal variations) and Colour Contrasts 1913-1917

Shadows depend on the strength and distance of the source of illumination. Candle, Lamp, electric or fire illuminations, unlike the Solar light, are at finite distances and of limited intensity. Both, however, form shadows with respect to the elevation of the objects. Solar light offers vast grades of reflections from nearby surfaces, but, other illuminations can provide small cone of receding strength. The skill to represent the colour tonal variations in shadows from the reflected light was grasped post Renaissance period. The nature of the colour within a shadow is mainly due to the intensity of reflected light and the colour (from the reflective surface).

18 Andrea Pozzo Plafond Ceiling Art The Apotheosis of Saint Ignatius

The ceilings (flat, dome, vault or other configurations) get illumination from windows and clerestory openings, in many directions. The ceilings and upper sections of tall walls were used for illusionistic paintings, with features like floating angels and clouds, foreshortened figures and pseudo architectural elements. The details were seen from distance, so drawn in an impressionistic manner with wild brush strokes. Such ceilings, known as Plafond art, had the lower edge, drawn in dark and contrasting colours and shadows, but the top central portion forming the upper limit of the room, were made with blue of the skies to look ethereal. Plafonds (17th to early 19 C) offered great lessons for treating architectural spaces with illumination and shadows.

24 Variations in Illumination through day-night

23 Single souce harsh Illumination George C Ault and Hopper

Mannerist painters and later Baroque artists used extreme intense contrasts between light and dark, almost obscuring their subjects to lend drama and mystery to the paintings’.

19 Monet art Without Shadows but colour differentiation between main and side faces

When Monet painted his series of haystacks, his main concern was to show that in reality, the colour of light and the colour of shadow, depending of the time of day, both, change simultaneously and dramatically. Artists of 19th C used comparatively, stronger dark shades for heightened impressionistic realism. This began to change with the onset of next century, when lighter colour shades (perhaps due to the Titanium Dioxide) were available. The subject matter changed from realistic to ‘objective’ abstraction. Here the source of illumination was unrecognizable, and so the shadows were nonexistent.

20 Edouard Leon Cortes Twilight hours illumination



Post 736 -Gautam Shah


7 Anglo-Saxon openwork silver disk brooch Wikipedia Image by Johnbod

6 Slightly convex bossed disc brooch of sheet silver with inlaid gold and niello ornament Mid 9th C

Niello is a metal embellishment craft. It is an inlay material, as well a surface treatment (as commonly called ‘oxidized’ silver). For both, silver is the preferred base-metal, and involves use of some form of sulphide. The Niello, is just deposition that affects the top layer of metal.

8 Oxidized silver not Niello 34195226975_66cee0f4bf_e

The infused colours for both techniques are various shades of Black. Objects treated with Niello, are also called nielli, and silver objects treated with Sulfides are called ‘oxidized’ or ‘blackened silver’ (though the word ‘oxidized’ is a misnomer). Niello (Italian), derives from, nigellum, nigellus neuter, niger, which all relate to the Black.

9 Egypt Box with cover

Niello is a black mixture of sulphur, copper, silver and lead, used as an inlay or filler material over engraved, chased or etched silver metal. It is added in powder or paste form and fired until it melts or at least softens. As it flows, is pushed back in the engraved pits. It cools, hardens and turns black, which with controlled application, provides colours like blues, purples, yellows, brown reds. The surface of silver is polished bright, leaving the Niello colour in the pits intact. The black colour of Niello is metal surface tarnishing but a hastened process, which left to nature would take years. Jewellers use a chemical called liver of sulphur’ (potassium sulfide).

11 Bassin Syrie

There are also several mixed-media techniques, often called metal-malerei (German =painting in metal), which involve applying gold and silver inlays or foils, over the Niello covered bronze. Niello was used as the adhesive base to apply thin gold and silver foils in place.

13 Hunting_Mycenaean_Dagger

1 Flickr 34082554962_d0a50261fb_c

The earliest use of Niello was in late Bronze Age, around 1800 BC. in Syria. Niello has been used in many parts of the world, including Russia, India, and Islamic countries. In Russia Niello is called Tula work.

4 Reliquary Casket with Scenes from the Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket

Gothic art from the 13th C saw Niello as a pictorial art. Use of Niello, which reached its high point in the Renaissance. Niello was popular because small goldsmiths used it for decorating simple ornaments. The art of Niello reached its peak in 15th C Italy.

5 Maso finiguerra 1452_(bargello)

During the Renaissance, at the height of its popularity, the technique was widely used for the embellishment of liturgical objects, cups, boxes, knife handles, sword hilts, bracelets, rings, pendants, and belt buckles. Later in Romanesque period Niello was used in densely engraved pieces.

2 Roman Silver 22534270923_f73016a24d_c

Renaissance goldsmiths in Florence in Europe, decorated their works in silver, by engraving the metal with a burin, and filled up the hollows with Niello, to achieve much higher visible contrast. Some pieces such as paxes (liturgical objects) were effectively pictures in niello.

10 Pax Niello style Print making

Niello was hardy and cheaper, and for that reason, in competition with costlier and superior painted enamel work. Painted Enamel, though offered wider colour range and very delicate details.

14 Snuffbox

Niello crafts-persons exploited their talent to make flatter objects like engraved plates, which before the filling in with Niello were used for print making on paper. These were known as ‘Niello prints’. Originally such paper prints were made by engravers to record their work. By the late 16th C soft mastic compounds were devised for engraving.

3 Niello print Italian 18th or 19th Horatius Cocles httpspicryl.commediahoratius-cocles-ac61fc Horatius Cocles


MOTIF PATTERN and DESIGN -Part 2 -Issues of Design 37

Post 735 -by Gautam Shah


2 4666096210_bb1cd4e110_c

A Design comes into being with the realization of the order that forms the composition. Architectural drawings are not designs, but media for representation. A design is the comprehensive experience of sensorial, emotional or functional nature that one derives from an object. Some designs are simplistic that their experience is holistic.

6 Orchidiarium_-_Medellin_Botanical_Gardens

A Holistic composition itself, may present as a single entity. Such exploits are not common. Holistic compositions are ‘superfluous’ with extraneous body and no dissect-able content. Holistic compositions are too personal. It is not easy to convey to others, except as the sensorial experience (visual, aural, tactile, olfactory or taste). A Holistic feel does not convey or have any utilitarian purpose. The creator of the holistic entity may experience the design-order conceptually (mentally or schematically), but for others, to perceive that feel, it must wait for the actualization. Private creations tend to have holistic ideation, like an abstract thing or a sculpture without any capacity to convey a meaning.

10 Deconstructivist Gymnázium v Orlové

11 Vitra Fire Station Deconstructivist Architecture 5402353925_29ec3f4cc4_c

Formal Designs are very large and complex organizations, serving many functions. A formal design serves functional, technological and, stylish relevance, besides being sited to a place. The conception of a comprehensive structure serving all these is not possible within a practicable period. The exigency of solution achievement does not allow it. The urgency derives from the fact that some other slightly superior solution can outpace it. In the circumstances, a design remains a workable entity, an assembly, where at any given moment ‘some sections may work well, and others remain time-space compromises’.

5 Fale_-_Spain_-_Cordoba_-_51

Actualized designs have size, shape and other sensorial attributes. The composition in an actualized design emerges through these basic characteristics. But most importantly actualized designs need to confirm to some compulsions. Without this, a design remains a defunct sculpted form, or an assembly of materials.

4 ceiling_glass_roof_structures_patterns_modern_interior_curved-1359376.jpg!d

At Design ideation level, a solution may seem comprehensive and so nearly holistic. There, however, are some compulsions which must be considered before a design actualizes.

1 L'estremità_di_una_via_cieca._Casa_di_Gilda,_bozzetto_di_Mario_Sala_per_Rigoletto_(1903)_-_Archivio_Storico_Ricordi_ICON000120_B

1. A complex design entity is conceived with many systems, some of which are fairly independent, but most others are not only mutually dependent, but spatially convergent.
2 The convergence also occurs due to the few nodes that connect various systems to the outside resources and systems.
3 A design encounters directional solar and other environmental elements, and these have zonal identity.
4 A design creation to be stable and secure must affirm to natural forces like gravity and structural integrity.
5 A design, where possible will be conceived of replaceable elements that require fitment facilities and protocols. The replaceable elements, fitment facilities and protocols, need to be universal and modular which force continuance of traditional or time-tested things, rather than new ones. A design emerges as a dilemma between old and new things.


Cubists, Modernists and later Deconstructivists tried to take a reverse route to reach the state of ‘abstraction’. They tried to reach a state of Holism by elimination. To this end, attempts were made to ‘eliminate’ (often just cover-up, hide or dis-regard) ‘what was plausible’. It is not possible to escape the reality and create any thing unimaginable.

Design documented schemes and actualized entities reveal Patterns, at three levels, as holistic, sectional or part identity. The revelation of a pattern is related to the scale of the design. Design documented schemes are scaled to manage and manipulate the composition, whereas, actualized designs are experienced in varied conditions and references. In documented design the perception of a pattern depends on the quality of presentation, and in case of actual design, the pattern can be sensed depending on the quality of environment (intensity of background interferences like glare, noise, persistence of past experiences) and conditions of perception (distance, angle, occlusions, reference to past remembrances, framing, personal sensorial capacities, etc.).

8 The_exterior_of_the_Baron_Empain_palace

9 Brighton_royal_pavilion_Qmin

Patterns have primary relevance, if, its body can be realized, and the potential for reuse manifests. For the later intention, a pattern must be traceable. One must sensorially realize its presence or remember its body and be able to copy, recollect or recreate it. In the process, many things get lost, but what gets carried is the essence of the pattern. A pattern may recur in some other time-space conditions.

3 50881829322_07108a7b9a_c

The patterns, as a ‘pure design or image’ has no raison d’etre (cause or purpose of origin). Patterns may be entities independent of the surroundings and also flourish as attached to some context. Patterns are arrangements, oriented peculiarly, but could still remain relevant from many other sides.

13 Pattern recognition on steps Flickr 41093653282_f1300f9d88_c

Patterns are sectional or part identity of a design composition. The formation and recognition of the Pattern, is the first order of founding a Design. Some ‘designs’ not offer an ‘unusual pattern’ as a take home essence. Such patterns are often in holistic in form. Patterns can have the potential of being joined with similar or dissimilar patterns, reduced in scale and repositioned (reoriented). Patterns also have the inherent possibilities of becoming part of larger compositions. At this stage holistic compositions do not remain personal things.

12 Enhanced Pattern Recognition 8697403826_8b3c8b2e49_c

Patterns nominally have multiple Motifs, and all integrated in some manner. But a Holistic pattern is a motif. Such motifs (holistic patterns) are self-sustaining elements and stay unaffected by the happenings in the surroundings, so some order of connectivity is required. The order of connection is the manner of touch or overlap, scale, direction and orientation besides the physical commonality and partial distortions. These are the essential characteristics that offer inexhaustible possibilities of bridging. The bridges, have two ends and a ‘structure’ in between. In case of a pattern, the structure may be physical, but generally just hypothetical recognition.

14 freudenberg-4572410_960_720

A Pattern may look like a familiar object, but need not be a representation or symbol. It may not have any abstract conveyance, yet may carry an associated or interpretive meaning. Our cognitive processes surpass the sensorial perception, and so redirect the sensorial search. Pattern recognition is a matter of perception, and so a personal affair. Recognition of a pattern in nature remains impressionistic, and remembered, noted or expressed for posterity.

17 Sagrada-familia-arches2

The Pattern style is omni present but becomes valid with a culture (terrain, climate, religion, customs, technology). Nikos Salingaros for example considers ‘regularity to be a key property of a pattern whether the pattern is the external stimulus itself or some other percept residing in the mind of the perceiver’. Is the pattern objectively observable and measurable or is it a subjective experience?

16 Chaotic 40596141501_1c65d02936_c

Pattern in Noise: The phenomenon of finding meaningful patterns in meaningless noise is called patternicity , and conversely, not perceiving patterns that are present in the visual stimulus is called apatternicity.

15 new-dehli-380043_960_720

In general terms, “a gestalt is a form, a figure, a configuration, or a pattern.” The Oxford dictionary defines form as “the visible shape or configuration of something.” The psychologist Gibson argues in his paper titled –What is a Form? -that much more precision is needed in the definition of such terms if they are going to be useful. He laments the fact that “the term form is used by different people to mean different things and by the same person to mean different things on different occasions.” According to Gibsonshape, figure, structure, pattern, order, arrangement, configuration, plan, outline, contour are similar terms without any distinct meaning”.

19 Pinakothek_der_Moderne_frontal



Post 734Gautam Shah



Quantity estimates form the prime database on which monetary estimate is scheduled. Quantities estimate, help us to compound simple measures like lengths, widths, heights, weights, numbers, etc. into quantities with fewer variables. Typically a volumetric quantity is more inclusive than linear or surface quantity. Similarly a numerical estimate far more comprehensive than even volumetric estimate.

1 weight_kilogram_old_measurement_balance-591282.jpg!d

It is generally experienced that certain form characteristics, dimensions (widths, depths etc.), etc. of parts and components remain constant not only through a project, but across projects of similar nature. Such constants are recognized and minor variables are levelled out within certain dimensional ranges. Dimensional ranges become effective in modular dimensions and through the methods of taking measurements. (See section on Modules of measurements and Modes of measurements). Modest qualitative differences are evened out through flexible and wider rang of specifications.

2 Terrains_de_polo_et_de_football_(US_compliant).svg

There could be several levels of conversions before a quantity estimate becomes relevant. One of the most important conversions is through monetary rating. Such conversions are carried out by many different agencies, without the author or the originator of the quantity estimate being aware of it, or being informed about it.

3 calculator-483807_640

Monetary estimates result out of a process called costing. Costing or cost-finding is done for the item as deliverable by a single agency, or for its parts, which have market equivalents, and so definite prices. However, where parts have no readily available market equivalents, these are evaluated for the cost of their constituent raw materials, labour and other inputs required for the assembly or construction.

4 geometry-1023844_960_720

Monetary estimates are based on items or jobs which no matter how complex are, consist of only few elemental parts, or very simple tasks. The elemental parts and tasks are usually comparable to many others used in different items or situations. Elemental parts, though similar in form and constitution, acquire a unique personality depending on the position of the component in the whole, nature of use, method of installation or erection and time schedule of installation.

5 Godorf_Cologne_Rhineland-Refinery-Cooling-Towers-during-demolition-02

In a monetary estimate, the parts of different types are categorized on the basis of external factors like a guarantee mechanism, life span, utility, depreciation, finance, cost, return, energy consumption, waste output, hazards, ecological value, replacement schedules, etc.

Non monetary estimates, follow a process called Valuation. The valuation or value providing creates a basis for judgement of an item. The value may be real and may match the monetary estimate of the item. The value could be a hypothetical one based on a perceived use, commonness or exclusivity, observed affectation, future cost of acquisition or disposal, etc.

6 Flickr Image 15757420086_bdca0cb9e5_c

Non monetary evaluations help define projects from many different aspects for which monetary costs are available. Yet, appropriateness and success of a design depend substantially on decisions made through such evaluations.

7 Non Monetary valuation Lyons_Architects_Office

Non monetary evaluations are like: Average space provided to a clerk, average area per resident in a hostel, proportion of area between rooms and a corridor, proportion of usable vs. service areas, energy consumption per user, load per bearing area, garbage outputs per resident, noise level per vehicle, water consumption per unit, etc.

8 Johnson, PhilipIDS Center Investors Diversified Services Center with Crystal Court 1969-72 49091064521_3c3480c036_c





Post 733 -by Gautam Shah


$ 20 Bronze man and centaur mid-8th century B.C.

Human and Animal body limb combinations constitute a very large set of images, revered by people across cultures and ages. Remarkably, lone human body forms, were less frequently revered, but the human and animal combinations were revered as deities, minor divinities, magical and mythical figures. These are found as figurines, statues, drawn and sculpted forms, narratives, descriptions, masks, costumes and outfits for performing arts. The personifications include whole body, parts, limbs, static and in-action poses, as stand-alone symbols, patterns, motifs.

24 Michelangelo (1475–1564), The Torment of Saint Anthony (c 1487–88)

The body-limb compounding offered greater potency and exclusivity. In many instances there are multiple anecdotes, how these forms came to be joined together, begotten from ordinary humans and live life like normal human beings. So the form or image was more a symbolic one, either angelic or diabolic, but always a latent super human.

$ 18 Lion_man_photo

In spite of so many varieties of humanoid or animalistic forms, there are no known incidences of compounding with minor insects and vegetation. Vegetation and derivative forms(Green-Man) were part of abstract or non-iconic worship of nature. The Green Man with a foliated head appeared in pagan period across Europe. Deities in Asia, are worshipped against such natural forms, or as related incarnations. Animals are shown in their original shape, usually executing abnormal feats like flying in air, spouting fire, water or poison.

$ 7 Granite statue of the lion-headed Egyptian deity Sekhmet from the temple of Mut at Luxor, dating to 1403–1365 BC,

$ 4 Meresimen Osiris four sons horus

Revering the nature was taking place with the classification of the material world in many part of the world, like, ancient India, Egypt and Greece. These were all real matters, Air, Earth, Fire and Water. These real matters originated as philosophical thoughts, first worshipped in an abstract manner, without any association or identification with human or animal forms. But, over a period of time these were personified in multiple deities, in different regions, at nearly same time. The assigned images and related mythological narratives had a great deal of convergence.

$ 25 Cinese dragon-1116306_1920

The inclusion of a metaphysical element, the sky (space -Avakash) and ether, was a strange thing. The real matters were easier to deify, but a metaphysical element (sky-ether) that could not have any iconic imagery, was difficult to handle.

$ 8 Water Demon Image by Vincedq at in Water Demon at JediMUD Wiki

There have been eulogistic mentions of the basic four/five natural elements, the earth, water, air, fire with later day inclusion of sky or ether.

$ 26 Cellarius_southern_scenographicFXD

The Indian beliefs were elements of nature, as the basis of existence (Sansāra –Sanskrit=world of existence). These elements were self-centred or sufficient (Ātman –Sanskrit=within), complete in own-self. The European conceptualization was of a deified superficial creator. The image as a representative or a formal deity was the belief in the existence of an external supreme being.

$ 21 tree-of-life

There are several instances where the natural elements have deified in the form of animals, birds or humans. Was it because the natural elements had no representable image?

$ 3 Winged Creatures

In various mythologies, there are numerous forms of human-animal and animal-animal combinations. Animal head and Human body constitute a very large set of combinations. These occur as descriptions, in performing arts’ narratives, drawn and sculptural forms. The animalistic or humanoid forms have been used as stand-alone symbols, deities, minor divinities and motifs. Egypt, India and Asia Minor have very large number of such representations. In India Vishnu has several avatars, representing the stages of evolution of life on the Earth. Egyptians have more such gods than purely of human forms.

$ 27 Dasavatar of Vishnu, 19th C Andhra Pradesh, India

Contrary to this, the Greek-Roman mythologies, have Animal body + Human head to dominate the scene. Many such forms gradually disappeared from worship practices with Christianity. But some reappeared with arrival of Goths. These forms, however, continued as part of folklore and performing arts. Some of the features were used to generate satanic scenes and narratives.

$ 16 Basantpur Nepal Kaal Bhairav Animalistic Expressions e83530e7130140c324fc10d8b503506b09e355cc

The ‘Green Man’ with a foliated head appeared in pagan period. The Green Man images occurred in wood and stone carvings in churches, chapels, abbeys and cathedrals in Europe. Green Man remained a mysterious design motif, flourishing with cultural and regional transformations.

1 Animal or Bird Head > Hathor (woman with a cow’s head), Thoth (ibis, baboon, or moon head), Satyrs (goat head), Anubis (jackal head), Siren (bird-woman), Inpu or Anpu (jackal or canine head), Amun (ram head), Bastet (lion or cat head), Horus (falcon head), Sobek (crocodile head), Taweret (hippo head), Avatars of Hindu Lord Vishnu (Matsya-Fish, Kurma -turtle, tortoise, Varaha -boar, wild swine, Narasimha -lion, Vamana -dwarf, Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Kalki, Hanuman (monkey head), Ganesh (elephant head).

There are many combinations of Human and Animal (birds, fish, insects) body+limbs, such as,

2 Animal or Bird Body > Sphinx, Centaur, Greek Echidna (snake body), Harpies (bird body), Minotaur (bull body),

3 Mixed Animal Head + Animal Body > Griffin (Bird head -lion body), Chimera (lion + goat + dragon), Cerberus (multi-headed dog), Hydra (multi headed serpent monster), Pegasus (bird-winged horse), Seth (beast composite of aardvark, donkey, jackal, fennec, fox), Khepri (exclusively beetle).

$ 10 Aztec Serpent Moon God

$ 9 The altar where serpent deities are worshipped in a temple in Belur, Karnataka, India

There were few combination forms which were not venerated, but part of the folklore, such as Mermaid (fish body), Vegetable lamb (plant-animal), Barnacle goose and mandrake (plant-man). The combination forms also reflect mixed progenies, caused by the curse, relations of convenience, or forceful sex. These, however, have scarce stories of origin. To complicate the scene, some transient or fluid forms, such as the Proteus (shepherd of the sea’s flocks or seals) who, changed the character, scale, shape or form, have also flourished.

$ 22 Folklore

Folklore is full of body-form transformations, from humans, plants and animals, into the mammals, birds, aquatic creatures, insects, reptiles, amphibians or plants. Stories, such as, Beauty and the Beast, Metamorphoses (a man into a donkey by Lucius Apuleius), Frog King, Swan maiden, Werewolf or Vampire, are part children’s stories. Few such transformational changes relate to veneration.

$ 11 Buraq an animal said to have conveyed the Prophet Muhammad to heaven in a journey called the Miraj. The Buraq has been described as a white animal, half-mule, half-donkey, with wings

Performance arts have extended the anthropomorphic range, (anthropomorphism involves a projection of human characteristics onto something non-human), because what was not possible to draw or sculpt is acted out with descriptions, sounds, masks and other theatrical effects. Mask allowed transformation into a new character, and freedom to perform sexual acts and ghastly sacrificial acts.

$ 19 puppet-93568_960_720

Animalistic expressions have been morphed on Human characters primarily through masks, makeup, adornments, and descriptions. The demons, Raksasa (India), devils, dragons, Guardians of Doors (China and India), and warriors, etc. are examples of fearful expressions.

$ 15 Thai Golden Garuda Statues

$ 6 Mosaic Morphed Animal+Human features

Zoolatry is the worship of animals. The Egyptian culture has several anthropomorphic deities, animal and human gods. There are several distinguished classes. The animal was revered as with powers, different and greater than of the human being. 2 The exclusive image of the animal (or bird, etc.), could not have a spiritual connection, and so the image had to be a mix of several animals and with human beings. 3 The common practice was to transplant the head of an animal over the human body, but occasionally head and body of different species were combined, and human head was joined with animal body. 4 The anthropomorphic image was enhanced through elaborate details in the folklore and additional decorations during rituals. 5 Many such images were accepted as tribal benefactor.

Several articles on related Topics have been published in my Blogs.

REVERING THE NATURE – Part-I Human-Plant Lineages


860 MASCARON -sculpted human head forms







ILLUMINATION and SHADOWS in ART WORKS -Issues of Design-36

Post 732 -by Gautam Shah


Other published Blogs in this series > ILLUMINATION and SHADOWS

1 ILLUMINATION and SHADOWS -Issues of Design 34 >


The Next One will be

4 ILLUMINATION and COLOUR SHADES -Issues of Design 37

1 Charles Courtney Curran Paris at nnight in Gas Lights 1889

26 Oskar Mulley Bozen bei Nacht 1918

Illumination manifests directly and through reflections, but always with the shadows. The shadows define the source of illumination, intensity, extent and direction. In art, illumination and shadows get expressed as depths of the elements and as cast shadows. Shadows could be intense occluding the colour, surface texture and minor details, or could be thin enough to reveal the form and surface underneath. The opacity and translucency of the shadows, both are expressed through colour combinations of hues, tones, tints and shades. These mixed in various proportions create effects of realism, grandiose, expressionistic, impressionistic and illusions.

14 Cave Painting Rupestral

15 Direct and Reflected Illumination in a Cave

For a long time, light was only seen as a functional element of everyday life. The first artists’ who realized the importance of light were the primitive age cave painters. They recognized two omni present sources of light, 1 from the mouth of the cave and 2 interior ‘reflector’ surfaces (which, were favourably angled, of lighter colour and not heavily textured). Both were dependent on solar illumination. The third sources of illuminations were the hand-held oil lamps. These were used to draw the artwork and later perhaps for the ceremonial exposure that included the narration. The illumination was stationary as well as moving. The stationary light was to highlight relevant elements in the scene whereas, the moving illumination was to interconnect the sections for reinforcing the magic or narration.

3 Chauvet´s cave horses Over lapped for depth -31000 years ago

All three types of illuminations affected the art compositions (scale, distances between the elements, white spaces, direction, movement by orientation of the head, colour intensity and the texture). These were subtle and informal lessons. The lessons were used in other expressions and communications. The effects of illumination had two classes. The variable effects were due to the changing position of the sun, shifting of the observer and intensity of the illumination. The stationary effects relied on the referential consequences such as through occlusion, masking, framing, etc.

16 Cave panel painted with bison figures Las Estazadas, Spain Wikipedia Image by José Manuel Benito

The primitive age wall-art did not use shadowing for forming the depth aspect of the individual objects, for presenting the overlapping of objects, or for indicating the day, night, ground or skies. At places, the lower body sections of animals, though have lighter colours, pointing to the lighter skin area.

5 Stele of Princess Nefertiabet eating; 2589–2566 BC; limestone & paint between 2590 and 2565 BC Wikipedia Image Attribution Rama

Bronze Age lasted from roughly 3300 to 1200 BC with main centers that formed adjacent domains, such as Sumer, Mesopotamia, Greece and Egypt. These were also connected to many other civilizations. In these cultures, two main types of drawn arts developed, the wall art and figures on potteries. In both the cases, the figures were highlighted without the ‘in-fill shadows’ or ‘fall-out shadows’, but with through the stark contrast with the background and in few cases emphatic outlines or silhouette lines. In early periods, the wall-arts or ceramics had the background space sometimes filled with non-overlapping human figures at smaller scale, but never used motifs, vegetation or architectural features.

10 Depiction of a Minoan city on the ship fresco in room 5 on the upper floor of the west house of the archaeological site in Akrotiri on Santorini, Cyclades, Greece 1650 and 1500 BC

9 Danseurs et musiciens tombe des léopards 2d composition with highlight through dress draping

Through this period, four types of representative arts emerged. Drawn arts like Paintings, Ceramics and Mosaics had human or animal figures in 2D format, but no vegetation, terrain details or built-forms as main or background. Body adornments and sculptures had the advantage, the base forms were already 3D formed, and so any painting on these had greater depth. The Mycenaean, Greeks, Egyptian, Romans and others in Asia, painted their sculptures, but, without exploring the natural (sun-light) shadows at the place, however sometimes enhancing the 3D effect of the forms through dark-light colour variations.

8 Fragment of Mycenaean Pictoral Style krater, boxers, 1300–12500 BC

To cause wider colour variations between the illuminated and shadowed areas wider palette was required. The really variegated range was available in oxide colours like red, umber, sienna, etc., through selective sourcing from nature and by calcining (sintering, as raw versus burnt) the minerals. Shadows in drawn arts require a wider palette. It came about in Europe with disintegration of the Roman Empire and Migrations of the Barbarians.

11 Macedonian tomb fresco from Agios Athanasios, Thessaloniki, Greece, 4th century BC.

In absence of shadowing, the emphases in composition were achieved through larger scaling, use of inlays, embellishments, incised (low engraving in wet clay). The low incision was also used in early stone carving to emphasize the figure, but the shadows of solar illumination were not consistent through the day at an observation point.

6 Relief of the royal family Akhenaten, Nefertiti and the three daughters 1352–1336 BC

The golden face-masks of the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were expressions of divine brightness. In Christianity the piety of Christ was shown as dark face, but enhanced with a shining halo and shiny background. Till, and often after, the Byzantine period, the directional illumination for Christ and other holy figures was rarely used. There was no consideration for the source of illumination in the surroundings, so in composition many figures seemed incompatible with each other.

12 Hellenistic mosaic from Thmuis (Mendes), Egypt, signed by Sophilos c. 200 BC; Ptolemaic Queen Berenice II (joint ruler with her husband Ptolemy III Under Chin Shadows

The shadows on body-figures were first added in mosaic murals of early Greek periods. Here the folds of the garments and under the chin areas were made darker. Fresco wall painting technique was a predefined zone-based colour impregnation (into wet plaster) technique. Mosaics, however, did not allow over painting for colour toning like the frescoes did. Mosaics offered no scope for rework through second application, and so had to be thoroughly preplanned.

17 Frescoes at cubiculum from the Villa of P Fannius Synistor Original frescoes were repainted typically by Tempera to add details

The over-painting technique began to be used in frescoes. Such over painted shadows or ‘in-fill shadows’ continued to be used without the inclusion of ‘fall-out shadows’. Fresco artists exploited the ‘over painting’ for shadowing with reference to local direction of illumination and also for compositional balancing. Such post drawing additional effects, were not comprehensive and looked patchy.

29 ART by Leonardo da Vinci Head of a Woman (In-fill shadows + Fall out shadows)

The importance of ‘fall-out shadows’ was realized with the performing arts (recitation, drama, dances, dolls shows) enacted at night, with one or few lamps. Here the scenes and the characters, both were under shifting and varying shadows. The mood of scenes and characters were changed by intensity and position (height and sides) of the illuminating lamps. For dynamic scenes like calamities, wars, curse, etc. the source of illumination and the actors moved around, creating dynamic shadows. It was not possible to replicate such dynamism in representative or fixed arts.

19 Shadows were part of the scheme at sketch-study level ART by Jan Gosart study Drawing of Virgin and Child with Saints,1511

Early Renaissance artists were once totally dependent on religious commissions, and so the subject matter. For the religious sponsors, the importance of the figures and the depth definition of the background were important matter. The humans (and few other living beings) were made important by shading of the body, but with no concern for the for the source of illumination and consistency of the direction. The craft of good composition helped overcome many of the patchy effects.

18 ART by Jan Gosart Intense shade Contrast in perspective and figures St Luke Drawing the Virgin 1515

28 Hendrick Aerts Interior of a Gothic church

Art reached a different level of expression, when the Renaissance artists learnt to include the illumination and shadows in the perspectives. It also added details and depth. This was also a time Renaissance art overcame the restraints of religious dogmas, and began to move towards the humanist art. The art now experimented with high degree of realism as well as the illusion. The trompe l’oeil art technique was used for optical illusion to form the 3rd dimension or the false depth.

21 ART by Georges de La Tour Joseph the Carpenter The Dream of St. Joseph

During the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) studied the combined effects of illumination and shadows. He studied the source of illumination in the composition, extent and intensity of shadows and the colour range (tonal, hue) for both. The artist tackled the visible and invisible (concealed) source of illumination and reflections from surrounding surfaces. The use of multiple sources of illuminations including the reflections from surrounding surfaces (usually nearby plain walls, and not the distanced architecture or terrains), gave a new feel of colour arrangement.

23 Caravaggio The Calling of Saint Matthew introduced darkness, inseparable from light, as an iconic and psychological factor of utmost importance.

The Dutch master of domestic painting, Jan Vermeer, used light sources to create volume, and make light a part of the painting. In his ‘Woman with a Pearl Necklace’, most of the painting is taken up by a white wall reflecting the light from a window. Thus, light becomes an identifiable character of the painting. There were many like Pieter Brueghel the Elder, who created complex thematic narratives, simply out of dark-light contrasts, without bothering about the source of illumination.

24 Plfond ceiling art of Illusion making

The Baroque and Rococo periods saw the Plafond ceiling art. It created an illusive bright aeriform in upper space. The composition was designed respecting the illumination from the architectural openings in upper section of the space. It was heavier at the lower peripheral edge and became lighter (ethereal) towards the central portions. The lighter central area formed an illusive break (a sky cut-out) in the ceiling. It was viewed from a distance, so the scale and figurative expressions, both were manipulated. The height scale was high (distance of the ceiling from the floor or viewing levels), so artists finished the work in bold (rough) strokes. This was the manner of impressionist expression (that was to come years later).

25 The Geographer

Baroque painters created the impressionist effect by using rich colours to form an intense contrast between light and dark. This Baroque exuberance was however, sobered in Rococo Phase, through the calibrated illumination and softer shadows in subtle colours. Rococo sense of detail and elegance, were perhaps due to the clear and brilliant illumination through large openings and use of Opalescent and Cristallo glass.

27 Luis Paret y Alcázar, Charles III Dining Before the Court, c. 1775. Museo del Prado. via Wikimedia Commons

The Renaissance artist, after debunking the religious themes, some of them became busy creating opulent art works. But other free wheelers, turned to humanism, which taught the artists to express passion, emotion, and sensation over rationale and reason. They also turned to truth and reality. In the process abandoned the Chiaroscuro style (Italian for ‘light =chiaro and dark=oscuro’), which, was based on use of strong contrasts between light and dark. Chiaroscuro was earlier practiced by Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Rembrandt and others.

31 Franz von Defregger Bauernhof Plein air sketching

Artists now moved to outdoors or plein air painting of the nature. This brought the artists not just out of dark interiors, but off their dark palettes. The Greens and Blues were the new colours.

30 Konstantin Korovin night illumination

City-based artists, who could not explore the nature, began to capture the street views, with effects of day time and night gas-light illumination. The day-light illumination in different forms, such as the cloudy skies, rains, snow fall and morning-evening twilight began to be the new art themes. The gas illumination technology developed in 1790s, became popular, first in commercial spaces, and later by 1816, gas streetlights were installed. Edison’s lamp in 1879 offered a cleaner and brighter option. But for the ‘street view’ artists, the new sources of evening and night illumination, with new tone and intensity, were exciting tools.

Paul Renard (French painter, 1871-1920)

Artists like Giorgio de Chirico, Edward Hopper, Pascal Fessler and others worked on themes in which shadows figured prominently. The fascination for the shadows was not translated into depth, but seen in large surfaces of contrasting colours, in empty town squares, sparsely furnished rooms, flat facades.

Bright Light at Russell's Corners
1946  oil on canvas

33 Edward Hopper sunny Sunday

The age of 19 C also brought in new chemistry of colours and new classifications. The colour violet only became an integral part of modern culture and life with the rise of the French Impressionists. The colours were seen as mixing of pigments and lights. Monet said: ‘Colours owe the brightness to force of contrast rather than to its inherent qualities’.

34 Colin Campbell Cooper NYC New age Colours