Gothic art

The term Gothic art or style refers to the architectural style that existed in Europe during the Late Middle Ages, sculpture and minor arts that linked medieval Romanesque art with the early Renaissance. The period is divided into Early Gothic, High Gothic and International Gothic. Its main form of expression was architecture, and we can see examples of them in the major Gothic cathedrals located in northern France. Gothic design replaced flat Romanesque forms with a new online approach. And its towering arches and buttresses allowed the opening of unprecedented window walls of beautifully inspired and translucent biblical art images, exceeding by far all that wall painting or mosaic could offer. All this created an evocative humanistic atmosphere quite different from the Romanesque period.

What is Gothic art?

Gothic art is the art that took place in the late Middle Ages, a dynamic period, varied and a European artistic style applied to civil and religious architecture, sculpture, stained glass, painting and murals.

Characteristics of Gothic art

Gothic art managed to transform castles, churches, cathedrals in almost all of Europe through its characteristics, among them we can mention:

Origin of Gothic art

Gothic art is an artistic style that was born in Western Europe at the end of the Middle Ages. It began in the 12th century and lasted until the arrival of the Renaissance in the 15th century. The greatest number of expressions of Gothic art occurred in northern France and then spread throughout the West.

Historical context

Gothic art developed over a long period in which European culture underwent profound changes that influenced art. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the countryside was more productive, and trade had re-emerged. Cities began to recover, and in the Gothic era, a new social group emerged, the bourgeoisie, which increased its protagonist. Civil buildings, palaces and, above all, cathedrals were built as a symbol of the new urban pride. Interest in earthly things, pleasure, the art refinement re-emerged, and the modern spirit began to be forged along with a religious view of the world. Money became more important, and men emerged who turned poverty into virtue.

Gothic art | What is, characteristics, origin, importance, sculpture, paint, works

The Latin cross plants predominated, distinguishing the chancel, the transept and the naves. The chancel had an ambulatory and radial chapels and the central nave, and the transept were wider. A lot of value was given to building façades, where towers and doors were placed. The façades were H-shaped. Buildings come to life and become spontaneous using an engineering empiricism to create high, colorful spaces.

Religiousness was centered on imitating Christ. Capitalism and urban life progressed, and several plague epidemics reduced the population of some cities decreasing the economy. The sociopolitical situations surrounding Gothic art caused social stability to be much greater from the mid-12th century onwards as national powers, monarchies, and feudal lords were finally controlled by royal power.

This stability produced economic development, more trade and market and human development. Importance was given to agriculture and commerce, handicrafts, and bourgeoisie that emerged as a new social group. The new form of society, more citizen and richer was dominated by a religious spirit as profound as it was different from that of previous centuries. The official and Christian society had triumphed, and God’s law was its foundation.

Importance of Gothic art

The importance of Gothic art is based mainly on the influence it managed to exert in modern times and the legacy it left in society. The buildings that have been built and that remain to this day are the basis of art. It helped to revive interest in medieval buildings and many buildings were rebuilt. Music and ideas are preserved to this day, and many philosophical and religious beliefs contributed techniques and knowledge.



The most commonly used materials were stone, polychromed wood, ivory and metal. Naturalism predominated in sculpture and humanizing sculptures was sought, seeking to reach the bodies volumes, movement and feeling expression through faces and attitudes. Its composition was quite orderly and organized in registers, sculptors were mainly concerned with depth and details. The main theme was the religious aspects, although there were also some profane themes.


As for painting, they used techniques such as tempera and oil, they painted on boards and made different mural paintings. For them, drawing was very important because it was responsible for delimiting the different forms, to mark models and to create compositional rhythms. Light was an important element to highlight volume. Colors were key elements, and different ternary ranges were used to fill all the symbols with great color.

Representatives of Gothic art

Examples of outstanding works

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Gothic art. Recovered on 24 February, 2024, de Euston96:

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