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The sculpture of the late Middle Ages, connected aesthetically and in content with the Gothic style, is completely subordinate to Christian ideology, is closely connected with architecture and strict rules for the depiction of sacred figures.
In fact, in Gothic times, sculpture as an independent art was not considered. It was intended not only to decorate temples and monasteries, but also to serve as bearing parts of complex archaeological structures, and, of course, an object of veneration, along with icons.
The works of medieval art in general, and Gothic in particular, are full of symbolic meaning, a kind of code that contains biblical meanings, the meaning of exploits in the name of the Faith of Christian saints.
In addition to the biblical Old Testament characters, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the apostles, kings, rulers, statesmen were depicted in the Gothic sculpture.
In Gothic sculptures, medieval restraint, static and detachment gives way to emotionality, dynamism and individualization of features. Of course, all these changes are only being outlined and several centuries will pass before medieval schematics, deliberate simplification will replace the humanism and authenticity of the Renaissance.
Gothic sculpture has made changes in the interpretation of the image of Jesus Christ. If in the early Middle Ages the Savior was interpreted as a formidable judge and almighty, now now more and more often he appears as a wise shepherd, a good mentor and teacher. Facial features are softened, a half smile can be seen on the face.
All these changes do not concern sculptures on crucifixes. At this time, the authors are trying with all their might to depict the suffering of the Savior on the cross as authentically and vividly as possible.
The sculptors of the Gothic era have an interest in the inner world of their heroes, artists of all European countries are looking for opportunities to convey the characteristics of character, the inner world of man. The authors notice individual facial features, achieve realism in the depiction of folds of clothing, posture and gestures. It is safe to say that the Renaissance arose in the workshops of sculptors of 12-14 centuries.
The external schematic and simplicity of Gothic sculptures is mainly due to the fact that the masters in their searches did not rely on ancient traditions, but on the aesthetic and technological traditions of the barbarian world dating back to pagan times.
Among the masterpieces of Gothic art can be called Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The gallery of kings over one of the facades depicts the Old Testament Jewish rulers, emphasizing the inextricable connection of the Testaments. Pious faces, good-naturedly and with a smile look at passers-by. Surprising is the variety of faces, the nature of each of the sculptures.
Everyone knows sculptures of gargoyles and monsters that adorn the crowns of the cathedral. Few people know that this is only an imitation of the Gothic style, and the sculptures themselves appeared above the cathedral much later.
Interesting sculptures adorning the cancer with the relics of the Magi in the altar of Cologne Cathedral. Each image is individual, each is made with extraordinary precision.
Portals of the Chartres Cathedral allow you to get acquainted with the Gothic sculpture most closely. Old Testament characters, paintings of the Last Judgment, images of Christ and the Virgin Mary - each work of the sculptors is worthy of special attention, each is unique in its execution and content. Separately, it must be said about wooden sculptures, which are perfectly preserved in the cathedral. The skill of the authors, who perfectly felt all the possibilities of wood as a material for sculpture, is amazing.
The kingdom of sculpture is called Reims Cathedral. Here you can see thousands of reliefs and hundreds of sculptures. The craftsmen who created the Reims Cathedral put so much inner content and dynamism into their works that they even pushed architectural beauty to the background. The sculpture of the Smiling Angel is simply mesmerizing.
The sculptural group The foolish virgins of the Magdeburg Cathedral are executed in a realistic manner, they are full of emotional drama and form an independent group that attracts the attention of visitors.
We can not say about the funerary sculptures of the Gothic era. The tomb of the Dukes in Dijon is full of sculptural images of various contents.
The expressiveness and artistic harmony of Gothic sculpture inspire modern sculptors. On one of the facades of Westminster Abbey there is a gallery of martyrs of the 20th century, all figures are made in accordance with the canons of Gothic sculpture.