The Gothic order of architecture, which was perfected during this period, had a decided influence upon the painting and sculpture of the time; but this influence was not felt until Gothic architecture had reached a high point in its development. France was now the leading country of the world, and Paris came to be the most important of all cities: it was the centre from which went forth edicts as to the customs of society, the laws of dress and conduct, and even of the art of love. From France came the codes of chivalry, and the crusades, which spread to other lands, originated there. Thus, for the time, Paris overshadowed Rome and the older centres of art, industry, and science, with a world-wide influence.

Fig 23 Fig. 23.—Figure of Henry I. in West Window of Strasbourg Cathedral.

Although the painting of this period had largely the same characteristics as that of the Romanesque period, it had a different spirit, and it was no longer under the control of the clergy. Before this time, too, painters had frequently been skilled in other arts; now it became the custom for them to be painters only, and besides this they were divided into certain classes of painters, and were then associated with other craftsmen who were engaged in the trade which was connected with their art. That is, the glass-painters painted glass only, and were associated with the glass-blowers; those who decorated shields, with the shield or scutcheon makers, and so on; while the painters, pure and simple, worked at wall-painting, and a little later at panel-painting also. From this association of artists and tradesmen there grew up brotherhoods which supported their members in all difficulties, and stood by each other like friends. Each brotherhood had its altar in some church; they had their funerals and festivals in common, and from these brotherhoods grew up the more powerful societies which were called guilds. These guilds became powerful organizations; they had definite rights and duties, and even judicial authority as to such matters as belonged to their special trades.

All this led to much greater individuality among artists than had ever existed before: it came to be understood that a painter could, and had a right to, paint a picture as he wished, and was not governed by any priestly law. Religious subjects were still painted more frequently than others, and the decoration of religious edifices was the chief employment of the artists; but they worked with more independence of thought and spirit. The painters studied more from nature, and though the change was very slow, it is still true that a certain softness of effect, an easy flow of drapery, and a new grace of pose did appear, and about a.d. 1350 a new idea of the uses and aims of painting influenced artists everywhere.

Fig 24 Fig. 24.—Birth of the Virgin. From the Grandes Heures of the Duc de Berri.

About that time they attempted to represent distances, and to create different planes in their works; to reproduce such things as they represented far more exactly than they had done before, and to put them in just relations to surrounding places and objects; in a word, they seemed to awake to an appreciation of the true office of painting and to its infinite possibilities.

During this Gothic period some of the most exquisite manuscripts were made in France and Germany, and they are now the choicest treasures of their kind in various European collections.

Fig. 24, of the birth of the Virgin Mary, is from one of the most splendid books of the time which was painted for the Duke de Berry and called the Great Book of the Hours. The wealth of ornament in the border is a characteristic of the French miniatures of the time. The Germans used a simpler style, as you will see by Fig. 25, of the Annunciation.

The influence of the Gothic order of architecture upon glass-painting was very pronounced. Under this order the windows became much more important than they had been, and it was not unusual to see a series of windows painted in such pictures as illustrated the whole teaching of the doctrines of the church. It was at this time that the custom arose of donating memorial windows to religious edifices. Sometimes they were the gift of a person or a family, and the portraits of the donors were painted in the lower part of the window, and usually in a kneeling posture; at other times windows were given by guilds, and it is very odd to see craftsmen of various sorts at work in a cathedral window: such pictures exist at Chartres, Bourges, Amiens, and other places.

Fig 25 Fig. 25.—The Annunciation. From the Mariale of Archbishop Arnestus of Prague.

About a.d. 1300 it began to be the custom to represent architectural effects upon colored windows. Our cut is from a window at Konigsfelden, and will show exactly what I mean (Fig. 26).