Origin of Gothic Art (III)
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
The Reims Cathedral of the Catholic faith, dedicated to Our Lady the Virgin Mary is located in the department of Marne in the northeast of France and is the head of the Diocese of Reims. It was built in the thirteenth century shortly after the Paris and Chartres Cathedrals. It is one of the most beautiful and important Gothic buildings in France and in 1991 UNESCO included it on the list of World Heritage Sites.
During the Ancien Régime this cathedral was the location of the coronation of the French kings and the last king crowned there was Charles X in 1825. The Reims Cathedral was bombed by the Germans after World War I, as they considered it a French national symbol. The number of statues in it was as many as 2,303, a figure that held the European record. On a part of its interior façade there are ornaments of carved figures, one of them being the famous ‘Knight’s Communion.’
For its part, the Milan Cathedral is a Gothic cathedral that is the Episcopal See of the Archdiocese of Milan, one of the largest in the Catholic world. It is 157 meters long and can accommodate 40,000 people. Its choir windows are large and beautiful and have the reputation of being the biggest known choir windows. Construction began in 1380 and was not completed until 1965.
The Basilica of St. Ambrose was built in Mediolanum which was the old part of downtown Milan. It was started in the 5th century and in 836 another basilica was added, but a fire damaged both buildings in 1075 and they were replaced by the Duomo.
In 1386 the prelate Antonio de Saluzzo started a new project in the style of the ‘radiant Gothic’ that rival the French Gothic tradition, for example with the double side aisles. With that he tried to compensate or pay the nobility and the entrepreneurial classes that had been harshly repressed by his predecessor, Bernabé Visconti.
In 1389 the French Nicolas de Bonaventure was given the job of architect for the project, and he gave the Cathedral a strong Gothic stamp. Still again in 1399 they called the French Jean Mignot to improve the work done and to raise the stones to form an unprecedented crown.
Addendum: There is no doubt that beautiful Gothic art originated in France, but then expanded throughout Europe.