Heavenly Vaults: From Romanesque to Gothic in European Architecture

Overview

The Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages are among the world's greatest architectural achievements. Looking up at the soaring vaulted ceiling of a Gothic church, it is impossible not to marvel at the seemingly unending design variations of these transcendent structures. Photographer David Stephenson, author of our best-selling book of dome photography Visions of Heaven, continues his exploration of the architecturally sublime by focusing his camera on the amazing vaulted ceilings of the medieval churches, ...

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2009 Hardcover Good 065 Item may show signs of shelf wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. Includes supplemental or companion materials if applicable. Access ... codes may or may not work. Connecting readers since 1972. Customer service is our top priority. Read more Show Less

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Overview

The Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages are among the world's greatest architectural achievements. Looking up at the soaring vaulted ceiling of a Gothic church, it is impossible not to marvel at the seemingly unending design variations of these transcendent structures. Photographer David Stephenson, author of our best-selling book of dome photography Visions of Heaven, continues his exploration of the architecturally sublime by focusing his camera on the amazing vaulted ceilings of the medieval churches, cathedrals, and basilicas of Europe. Stephenson presents more than eighty Romanesque and Gothic vaults in kaleidoscopic photographs that reveal their complex geometrical structures, decorative detailing, and ornamental painting in ways they have never before been seen.

From simple arched stone tunnels, or so-called barrel vaults, to quadripartite and sexpartite rib vaults, to intricate tierceron and lierne vaults with their added decorative ribs, to complicated net, fan, and diamond vaults of the late Gothic period, Stephenson's visual taxonomy of this ancient structural form is strikingly beautiful and showcases numerous varieties across time and location. In an accompanying essay, the author charts the history of the vault and explains its technological developments. A foreword by photography curator Isobel Crombie puts Stephenson's work in context.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The author and photographer of these vaulted European church ceilings from the 12th through the 16th centuries directs readers' attention to the emotional resonance and liberating sensation one feels in these buildings, and to the spiritual meaning of the symmetries and mathematical proportions employed in their construction. At the book's core are 104 pages of color photographs that capture these symmetries and let readers discover their pleasures. Stephenson (Visions of Heaven) provides a straightforward architectural history of the structures and their evolution into delicate traceries suggesting floral patterns and ending with the rampant vegetal images of the late Gothic style. (Nov.)
Library Journal
This remarkable follow-up to photographer Stephenson's Visions of Heaven: The Dome in European Architecture follows the same track: it starts with a short introductory essay offering theoretical background; moves to a core section consisting of about 120 exemplary, breathtaking, detailed color photographs of individual elements of churches, synagogues, and mosques; and ends with important information on each piece of religious architecture, which is extremely useful to tourists. Together, these two books represent a combination of philosophic commentary, artistic photography, and historical scholarship that will have enormous impact for many years. Readers will come away with an appreciation for the windfall of religious architectural art—embracing the eternal, the celestial, the sublime, the ethereal, the structural, the transcendental, and the natural—in the Middle Ages and beyond. Larger versions of much of Stephenson's work are available online. VERDICT With Stephenson's Visions of Heaven, this work is highly recommended for anyone interested in religion or architecture as well as for travelers (armchair and otherwise).—Peter Kaufman, Boston Architectural Ctr.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568988405
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
  • Publication date: 9/23/2009
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 11.40 (w) x 11.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. David Stephenson is an associate professor at the School of Art, University of Tasmania, Hobart. His work has been exhibited throughout the world and published in numerous publications. Stephenson is the author of Visions of Heaven.

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