A Short History | The Romanesque Art Period of Western Europe
The Romanesque Art period of Western Europe spanned from 1000 AD to the ascent of the Gothic style in the 13th century. Most commonly associated with Romanesque architectural style typical of retaining the fundamental features of Roman architecture in particular the semi-circular top of window openings and the very popular leaf embellished, stone carvings but it became somewhat more developed and became Romanesque Architecture.
Romanesque Art became most popular in sculpture and painting and more often than not incorporated depictions of Jesus Christ and other highly religious scenes. Colours were awfully bold and normally of the primary palette. Coincidentally stained glass was invented in the period and became extremely popular; however there are few remaining examples.
Historiated Initials were also of the time and Romanesque Artwork was often integrated into the initial letters, this however changed the illustrations to become more intricate and more flexible to fit the letters shape.
The works of the decade that are more famously renowned are illuminated manuscripts, wall paintings, embroidery and stained glass. The illuminated manuscripts, called so because of the vast amount of decoration around margins, initial letters and front covers. The manuscripts were mostly bibles and letters of incredible importance and were the most popular type of formal communication. Wall paintings became almost a trend, a result of the large bare walls which soon became a blank canvas for works such as, Catalan fresco, now in Museum Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Again however little evidence of these master-pieces are gone, due to damp, new plaster and wall papering. Also in England, France and the Netherlands such pictures were systematically ruined or whitewashed in bouts of the Protestant Reformation. As mentioned before stained glass was popular at the time, although embroidery was a more traditional method and was responsible for the great Bayeux Tapestry which depicted the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England.
From a design point of view when all things are considered the Romanesque period was an era that was almost erased from history, the sole fact that it survived is tremendous. The use of bold, basic colour and figures of great religious importance creates the basis for mesmerising art pieces which paved the way for future pieces and helped art and architecture develop into what it is today.