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Gothic Medieval Art

Recovering from the Dark Ages and desperate to move towards prosperity, confidence and radiance, the artists during the Medieval Ages poured their imagination and emotions into their creative pursuits, giving birth to Gothic Medieval Art. It was indeed the era of re-invoking the pleasantness of human nature. Read more about Gothic Medieval Art in this article.

What is Gothic Art?

Gothic Medieval Art
Gothic Art, by Eric Pouhier, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5

Gothic Art today is almost a misnomer of what it originally was. Its natural characteristic of Gothic Medieval Art, dominated by the resurgence from the Dark Ages, poured life into everything the artists did during this period. Gothic Art took shape in Paris in the middle of the 12th Century and flourished across Europe till the 1500s.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the French Aristocracy started gaining prominence. This rise to power influenced all forms of Art, and Gothic Medieval Art was born. The creative endeavours tied to Christianity and the Church took the initial steps with the rebuilding of the Abbey Church of St. Denis in 1137 by Abbot Suger, who believed that natural light was a form of God’s presence. This idea took flight, and most artists across Europe started following that.

The same idea influenced paintings and sculptures, where Naturalism gained prominence, and Jesus Christ was shown more as a human than a deity.

Gothic Art Through the Medieval Ages

Gothic Art was mainly divided into Early and Late Gothic Art during Medieval times.

Early Medieval Gothic Art

Christianity was in its evolution phase during the early Gothic period, and thus most art forms were used as tools to educate a widely illiterate population. Paintings and sculptures played tools in promoting Christianity. This is why the early Gothic period saw the building of several Gothic Cathedrals across Europe. It followed the style of tall buildings, flying buttresses, pointed arches, and glazed windows.

Late Medieval Gothic Art

By the late 14th Century, Northern European Art started blending with the Italian style, leading to the flourishing of the international Gothic style. This form of Art was popularized by several prominent artists of this era who extensively travelled across Italy, France, Germany, England, Bohemia, and Austria. Late Gothic Art was characterized by courtly, noble zest, filled with Flemish anxiety and naturalistic ideas. Unlike Early Gothic Art, it was more unified. However, it was highly influenced by the Black Death, a horrifying illness pandemic that engulfed Europe.

Famous Gothic Art

The Medieval era of the late Middle Ages was when Art came as a saviour. It gave the world architectural marvels like Notre-Dame de Paris, Reims Cathedral, and Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. Also, famous artists like Benedetto Antelami, Bonaventura Berlinghieri, Nicola Pisano, Guido Bigarelli, Duccio di Buoninsegna, and many more.

Medieval Gothic Paintings

Medieval Gothic Paintings
Medieval Gothic Painting is licensed under CC0

Painting was not the most widely pursued form of Art during the Medieval Gothic period, and it remained quite a rarity till the 12th Century. Meanwhile, Gothic sculptures and architecture flourished. However, it is not clear when the transition from Romanesque to Gothic happened. What is known about Gothic paintings is that they emerged in England and then spread to France, Germany, and Italy. Styles like Frescos, Stained Glass, Manuscript and Printmaking, Altarpiece and Panel Painting were popularly followed.

Medieval Gothic Sculptors

Although Gothic Art is mainly dominated by architecture, sculptors adorning the walls of significant cathedrals and churches were a major source of what this art form was all about. These sculptors added more beauty and grandeur to the structures, from exaggerated columnar elongations to a more naturalistic style. Famous cathedrals and churches like the Chartres Cathedral, Reims Cathedral, and Bamberg Cathedral have massive sculptures adorning the walls. Meanwhile, more miniature sculptures, independent of architecture, were made for female connoisseurs. These were small, devotional polyptychs, single figures, mirror cases, combs, and elaborate caskets.


Medieval Gothic Art was an escape from the trauma that the Roman empire inflicted upon the population of Europe and the Dark Ages that followed. It truly reflected the zest that artists had to break free from the shackles and create something beautiful and meaningful. The Gothic Art of the Medieval times continues to inspire many even today.

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