English & German Gothic Art: Style & Influences

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  • 0:03 Gothic Art & Architecture
  • 0:54 English Gothic Architecture
  • 2:36 German Gothic Architecture
  • 4:06 Other Gothic Arts
  • 5:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Juliao

David has a bachelor's degree in architecture, has done research in architecture, arts and design and has worked in the field for several years.

In this lesson, you'll learn how Gothic art started in France and later developed in England and Germany. You'll also discover the architecture, sculpture, and other forms of art from this period that evolved outside of France.

Gothic Art & Architecture

The term Gothic art refers to an artistic style that appeared in France during the 12th century and became popular in many parts of Europe. Although it was found in other art forms, the Gothic style was most closely associated with religious architecture.

The Gothic style succeeded the Romanesque style, which had a more robust appearance and focused on more open spaces, the use of stone as a construction material, and verticality. Gothic architecture was defined by the use of buttresses as structural reinforcements, pointed arches, tall pointed towers known as spires, and vaulted ceilings.

Although it originated in France, the Gothic style spread quickly. However, it wasn't the same all over Europe. Artists and architects in England and Germany added their own specific features, thus creating some unique adaptations.

English Gothic Architecture

The English Gothic had 3 different stages: Early Gothic, Decorated Gothic, and Perpendicular Gothic.

Early Gothic was characterized by the incorporation of the pointed arch as a constructive and decorative element. Other French elements adopted during this period included buttresses and ribbed vaults. However, the use of thick walls from the Romanesque period could still be found.

The Decorated Gothic stage focused on more elaborate decoration. Elements such as pinnacles (spire-like decorations used on buttresses) and rose windows were often used. This type of a facade opening also originated in France and consisted of a circular window with a series of stone trays in a radial layout, commonly decorated with stained glass. The tracery used was mostly designed with s-shaped curves.

During the Perpendicular Gothic stage, designs based on perpendicular lines and stone-traced vertical lines decorated windows of great proportions. Ribbed vaults were replaced by fan vaults, which consisted of ribs radiating from the columns onto the ceiling, in very elaborate patterns.


The Salisbury Cathedral, completed in 1258 during the Early Gothic period, is an example of the French influence on the English Gothic style. The floor plan is in the shape of a Latin cross. Architectural elements include buttresses, pointed arches, ribbed vault ceilings and an exceptionally high central spire.

The Gloucester Cathedral was started in 1089 and completed in 1499. The nave features a ribbed vault supported by massive columns, while the altar area includes an elaborate fan-vault and abundant stained glass decorations typical of the Perpendicular Gothic style.

German Gothic Architecture

It took time for the Gothic to be accepted in Germany, where the Romanesque style was deeply rooted. French elements like the rose window and the rib vault were incorporated first. Gradually, other Gothic constructive elements were adopted.

Two distinctive features evolved in the German Gothic: The Hall Church consisted of a nave and side aisles having a similar height, which opened up more space for windows, providing better lighting and allowing for larger stained glass pieces to be installed. Second, an adaptation known as Brick Gothic became common in Northern Germany and regions around the Baltic Sea, where access to stone was limited. Along with the construction of Gothic cathedrals and churches in Germany, the construction of town halls became common, which were often located near religious structures and followed a similar style.

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