Romanesque art, a style of architecture and other branches of art that arose in Western Europe in the 10th century. The term “Romanesque” (French: Romanesque, Spanish: romanico, German: Romanik from Latin: romanum – Roman) appeared at the beginning of the 19th century when historians and romantic artists, discovering the art of the early Middle Ages, noticed that the architecture of this era externally reminds ancient Roman. The Romanesque era is the time of the emergence of a pan-European architectural style. The leading role in this process was played by the peoples of Western Europe. The formation of Western European Romanesque culture due to continuous wars and the migration of peoples took place later than in the East, in Byzantium, but proceeded more dynamically. The main feature of the Romanesque era is its openness to external influences.
The ornamentation of Romanesque art, mostly borrowed in the East, was based on the utmost generalization, geometrization, and schematization of the pictorial image. In everything, simplicity, power, strength, clarity were felt. Typically, the absence of any particular program in the placement of decorative motifs: geometric, “animal”, biblical – they are interspersed in the most bizarre way. Sphinxes, centaurs, griffins, lions and harpies coexist peacefully nearby. Most experts believe that this entire fauna is devoid of the symbolic meaning that is often attributed to them, and has a predominantly decorative character.
The art of sculpture and painting was closely associated with the art of book miniatures, the heyday of which falls precisely on the Roman era. However, here we do not see a single style. In the art of illuminating manuscripts, extremely geometrized images, floral ornaments, and naturalistic elements are equally common.
Artistic craft intensively developed both in the monastery workshops and in the cities, among free artisans and wandering artisans of masters. Vessels, lamps and soldered stained-glass windows were made of glass – colored and colorless, the geometric pattern of which was created by lead jumpers. However, the heyday of stained glass art came later, in the era of the Gothic style. Particularly popular was ivory carving. In this technique caskets, caskets, salaries of handwritten books, folds – diptychs and triptychs, tops of bishop’s staffs, crosses, as well as olifants (from lat. Elephahtus – elephant) – reliquaries in the shape of a hunting horn from an elephant tusk, decorated with medallions depicting animals with the image of animals and birds. The old technique of notched enamel on copper and gold developed, mainly in the valley of the Meuse River, later – cloisonne enamel. From the last third of the 12th century, the workshops of the city of Limoges moved to first place, which later became famous for its painted enamels. Romanesque art is characterized by the widespread use of iron and bronze. Lattices, fences, curly hinges, locks, and the cuffs of chests with characteristic arrow-shaped finishes and semicircular curls were made of wrought iron. Bronze was used for door knockers in the shape of animal or human heads. Doors with reliefs were cast and minted from bronze – this tradition was preserved up to the Renaissance, huge fonts for the Baptistery, candelabra, zoomorphic arms – aquamanils (French aquamanile from Latin aqua – water and manus – hand).
In Romanesque art, due to its heterogeneity and lack of a single style, many regional art schools have always been distinguished. At the end of the XIX century, the concept of “Romanesque art” also included “Lombard”, “Saxon” and even Byzantine art of the V-XII centuries. The basis for such a union, despite the obvious differences in artistic forms, was the commonality of Christian ideology, the use of “Romanesque” architectural elements: domes, semicircular arches, massive walls and towers, basilic buildings. However, in addition to the dualism of West and East in Romanesque art, the differences between the South and the North were strong. In the North, in Ireland, stood out “Winchester School” book miniatures with typical Celtic ornaments from plant shoots, made with bright colors. The craftsmanship of ornamental stone and wood carvings of a characteristic woven and “abstract animal ornament” reached an extraordinary height there.
However, with all the diversity and heterogeneity of Romanesque art, it can be divided into three different periods. At the end of the 10th and the beginning of the 11th centuries a strict simple early Romanesque style emerged, the distinguishing features of which were the absence of decorations, flat wooden ceilings and the absence of ornament on the capitals of columns. The second period (1100-1180) is characterized by the replacement of flat ceilings with arches, first box-shaped, then cross-box. In the constructions of this Middle Roman style, decorations appear: falsely arcade friezes, portals with ornaments and the same capitals of columns. The third period, which lasts until the middle of the 13th century and is called the late Roman or transitional, develops features that subsequently finally develop in Gothic architecture.