chapter  1
10 Pages

Historical background

WithWhitney S. Stoddard

The enthusiasm for Romanesque art shared by contemporary architects, historians, and sensitive travelers is a relatively recent phenomenon. De Gerville’s observations, however, led eventually to the use of the word “Romanesque” to designate Medieval art between the decline of the Carolingian empire in the ninth and tenth centuries and the beginnings of the Gothic period in the middle of the twelfth century. Currently, the Romanesque is comprehended as a unique period of history — a period not “dark,” but possessing tremendous vitality. Modern painters and sculptors are excited by the discovery of the visual sensitivity inherent in the interlacing forms of Romanesque sculpture and murals. Somewhat belatedly, historians are joining art historians in setting off the Romanesque as an historical period distinct from the confused century following the collapse of the Carolingian empire and at the same time distinct from the Early Gothic period of the twelfth century.