chapter  6
26 Pages

Spirit and Conscience

The demise of Gothic is attributable neither to the secularizing of its symbolic aspiration nor to a rejection of the notion that it pointed towards God nor to a dismissal of the holiness of the space enclosed by its structures: indeed, such meanings were largely attached to medieval architecture by those who argued for its revival. Rather, it was the means by which the new sophistication of Renaissance architecture could be celebrated. Gothic was treated with contempt on technical grounds, for its vulgarity and for its association with German traditions. In his Ten Books on Architecture written in 1450, Leon Battista Alberti had drawn from Vitruvius a classical conception of beauty expressed in the phrase concinnitas universarum partium: that is, the parts of a building were to be in harmony and concord with the whole. The recovery of Gothic, however, especially in England, was more theologically based.