First Pointed

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First Pointed. First of the Gothic styles of architecture from the end of C12 to the end of C13, known in England as the Early English style. Good examples include much of Wells (from 1180), Lincoln (from 1192), and Salisbury (from 1220) Cathedrals. Gothic is characterized by the pointed arch and vault. Windows started as apertures in a wall of the lancet type, often very sharply pointed, or with blunter heads formed of equilateral arches. Foil arches occurred in some locations, and grander doorways, with numerous Orders, often had the doorway divided in two with a central pier or shaft (trumeau) supporting a tympanum ornamented with sculpture and associated with an almond-shaped (mandala) or quatrefoil panel. Mouldings of arches were often composed of contrasting concave and convex forms in section, sometimes with fillets, giving emphasis to light and shade, while detached colonnettes or shafts of black or grey marble, secured to piers at vertical intervals by bands of a shaft, enriched the architectural effect and accentuated verticality. Common ornament of horizontal mouldings (often on capitals) was nail-head, consisting of a series of small pyramids touching at their bases, while the larger, sharper dog-tooth ornament usually occurred in cavetto mouldings around doorways, windows, niches, etc. Capitals, in their simplest form, were shaped like an inverted bell, but more frequently were ornamented with vigorous stylized foliage of the stiff-leaf, trefoil-leaf, or volute type, deeply under-cut. Bases of colonnettes or piers consisted of cylindrical forms with torus mouldings and the occasional cavetto, displaying a debt to Classical architecture, just as the bell- and volute-capitals clearly were derived from Antique Roman precedents. Vaulting was often employed for ceilings, ribbed vaults first occurring probably at Durham or in Lombardy: the pointed vault overcame the problems of vaulting rectangular areas using semicircular arches because the curved forms meeting at an apex were far more flexible and adaptable, the pointed apex being effectively the ‘hinge’, enabling arches to span from apex to springing without the awkward geometry and junctions inevitable when the Romanesque semicircular arch was used. Bosses were the usual ornament at the intersection of ribs. The outward-thrusting forces of heavy vaults had to be counteracted by means of deep buttresses, which divided façades into bays, and were themselves capped by gablets or pinnacles designed as clustered piers. Roofs, like Romanesque roofs, were steeply pitched, and in some cases (e.g. Lincoln Cathedral) in increased in pitch to 70° or thereabouts. Circular windows of the wheel type were used, especially in gables (e.g. north and south transept walls), while other windows started out as the lancet, then evolved as two lancet-lights with a roundel over, as in early plate-tracery. Starting with Rheims Cathedral (1211), the moulded bar mullion was used to separate lights, with the bars forming decorative patterns above, beginning with the simple Geometrical type featuring circles, foils, and approximately triangular elements. By the time Geometrical bar-tracery was fully developed, the style merges with Middle Pointed.


Grodecki (1986);
J. Parker (1850);
Rickman (1848)