DiscoverFrance! home page

Recommend Us! Guest Book Advertising Web Hosting Site Map Help! E-mail


Culture, history,
language, travel,
and more!

Pull down window to select topic, then click GO!


Enter your e-mail address to receive updates about!

Vote for this website!


Airline Tickets

Car Rentals


Hotels, Condos


Rail Passes

This menu is powered
by Agum Network

visiteur numéro


Visit our Boutique!

Click above
to visit our

Search this site

Click above to
search this site
or the Internet.

Music while you browse

Click above for
optional background
music while you browse!

Random quote generator

Click above to see
random quotations!


"Art is the most passionate orgy within man's grasp."

Jean Dubuffet (1901-85), French sculptor, painter.


The Gothic style grew out of the Romanesque in a surge of activity that began in the mid-12th century. The increasing affluence of that period brought new commercial centers into prominence. Mercantile interests sponsored the construction of great cathedrals, thus giving the cities the initiative in artistic innovation over the rural monastic and pilgrimage churches that had dominated the preceding centuries. Gothic art evolved in Northern France and spread throughout Europe, becoming the universal style from the 13th through the 16th century. Although the influence of Romanesque architecture had spread beyond France, Gothic was the first French style to dominate Europe.


Gothic architecture began with the construction of cathedrals in Noyon (begun c.1150-70) and Laon (begun c.1160) and of the abbey church of Saint-Denis near Paris. It continued to develop in churches close to Paris, at Senlis (1153-84) and Sens (begun c.1140), and in the cathedrals of Reims (begun 1210) and Rouen (begun after 1200). Saint-Denis, the most important achievement of early Gothic architecture, was built on the foundations of an earlier church between 1137 and 1144. The Abbott Suger intended to make Saint-Denis a splendid showplace in keeping with its function as the royal abbey church of France and burial place of French kings.

In order to make these Gothic churches larger, the ribbed vault, capable of spanning large areas, was devised. Ribbed vaults were made loftier by enlarging the clerestory zone and its windows to enormous size, inserting a new zone, the triforium, below it, and supporting them on an arcade of high piers lining the nave. To bear the greater stress of these taller, broader interiors, and to create larger window areas, a system of external supports or flying buttresses was developed. This created a greater sense of unity between the spaces of the nave and the adjacent aisles and ambulatory chapels. As the builders became more sophisticated, they were able to achieve ever grander effects at Notre Dame de Paris (begun 1163), Chartres Cathedral (1145; rebuilt after a fire begun 1194), Amiens Cathedral (begun 1220), the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris (begun after 1243, completed 1248), and Reims. The windows were enlarged, not to lighten the interiors, but rather for extensive use of stained glass, which attained the height of its development in the late 12th and 13th centuries at Chartres and the Sainte-Chapelle.


Both the exteriors of these churches and certain interior elements were decorated with elaborate sculpture. Facades were populated with large figures of kings; portals were flanked by pillar-statues, called jamb figures, of saints, angels, and apostles; and other parts of the building were encrusted with decorative cusps, finials, and grotesque gargoyles. Gothic sculptors took a revolutionary step beyond their Romanesque predecessors in their conception of the figures as independent, almost free-standing statues rather than as reliefs. From the columnar verticality of the jamb statues at Chartres, Gothic sculpture evolved quickly toward the sympathetic depiction of character in the figures at Reims (c.1224-45). Gothic sculpture became more sophisticated in the ensuing centuries. One of the finest 14th-century creations is the refined and mannered figure of the Virgin that stands in the south transept of Notre Dame de Paris.


Alden Rand Gordon
Source: 1997 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia v.9.0.1

Art Database (searchable, in French only)
The "Joconde" database is a catalogue of drawings, stamps, paintings, sculptures, photography and objects of art conserved in more than 60 museums throughout France. It contains details on more than 130,000 works, dating from the 7th century to the present, representing over 10,000 artists.

Introduction to French Art & Architecture

Pre-Historic, Celtic & Roman Periods

Merovingian and Carolingian Periods

Romanesque Period || Gothic Period

Renaissance Period || Baroque Period

18th Century || 19th Century || 20th Century


Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Gustave Caillebotte

Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, Gustave Courbet

Edgar Degas, Eugène Delacroix, Paul Gauguin

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Le Corbusier

Fernand Leger, Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse

Jean François Millet, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso

Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin

Henri Rousseau, Georges Pierre Seurat

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh


Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Cubism, Fauvism

French Sculpture, Impressionism, Museums

Neoimpressionism, Postimpressionism

Realism, Rococo Style, Romanticism

This menu is powered by Agum Network

Discover France web ring

This ring site owned by


Books & Videos

Revisit the era of the "Lost Generation" in Hemingway's Paris.

Explore the fascinating history of the prophet from Provence, Nostradamus.

Read the reviews of our carefully selected travel guides and recommended reading, then click to save 20-40% on books you purchase, with the convenience of home delivery.

Can't find your favorite French movies at the video store or library? Check out our selection of videotapes and DVDs featuring French movie icons like Depardieu, Deneuve, Montand, and many more. Then click to save 10-30% on your own personal copy delivered to your door!


Host your web page with us! actively encourages topical submissions from students of French language & culture, educators, seasoned travelers, American expatriates, and natives of France.

If you would like to share your experiences, knowledge or research with thousands of our visitors and friends, please send a note to the webmaster!

Are you an individual or business with a web page on any topic related to France -- arts, culture, entertainment, history, language, tourism, etc. -- in English or French? Your site can have an address of "www. discoverfrance. net/your_site" for less than $10 per month! Get more hits by affiliating with other francophile sites.

Tired of the Java commercial advertising windows and banners imposed by the so-called "free" web page hosting services? At, you can customize your page as you wish, without any commercial requirements or programming inserted into your HTML. Our web servers and Internet connections are fast, too.

For more information, please contact our sales staff!

Design and layout © 1997-1999

All Rights Reserved

Comments, suggestions,
broken links?

Made with Macintosh

The Wharton Group
Ian C. Mills


The Y29K - compliant computer
preferred by designers everywhere.

This site




Text copyrights are attributed to their respective sources throughout this site.