Muitas imagens da arquitectura foram «iconoteologia». Many images of ancient and traditional architecture were «iconotheological». This blog is to explain its origin.
28.1.13

In our M.D. thesis -a registration of some selected findings obtained in the studies we did around Monserrate-I*- it is exposed how in baroque period many medieval ideograms were built-in, frequently, in architecture.

Here, complementing and reinforcing our specific approach and its unexpected results, we must observe that several “Gothic Survival” cases (even if this expression is uncommon) have preceded Monserrate building.

Since 2002 we could understand that numerous creators, plausibly pushed by Church (remember Trent resolutions towards image), recycled shapes and different “ideograms”. Shapes that have been, initially, since primordial times, forms of calligraphic signs: flat and almost only bi-dimensional, generally no more than inscriptions.

Those shapes we easily presume began to be sketched in the sand (of Mediterranean beaches), or else in soft materials as clay; one day were painted, incised and carved, in leather, glass, wood, stone, ivory, gold…. They generated illustrations of stained glass, triptychs, low reliefs or jewelries of Roman Early Christian, Goths Art (see Aloïs Riegl), Roman Early Christian, Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic Art.

As one sees in architecture, Romanesque and Gothic, the very same images that have contributed to the first Christian Art, after, they gained volume and three-dimensionality. But, if in Medieval Styles - as it happened especially in France and northern Europe, where only very few diagrams were associated- far later, we perceive an «imperative» tendency: a returning to the older images. I. e., we can observe the reappearance, into a much larger amount, of Latin and south European decorative (or meaningful) forms.

Around 17th and the beginning of 18th century, as is patent in European monumental heritage, then the desire of being wealthier, more significant and highly rhetoric -in the linguistic and codified system architecture was– this wish pulled authors to invention. Casting in their edifices the shapes considered to be more qualified to help Church gathering people around its purposes and ideas.        

We name such emblematic schemes as “Ideograms”** because the best authors used them, perfectly integrated in the new compositions. Into which they were able to supply the essential (also considered symbolic) meanings we are referring.

As everyone can see, with an enormous creativity, such Ideograms transformed architecture. Producing some of the more extraordinary, unusual (they are unique, not repeated continually as happens in Gothic Style) and admirable masterpieces.

For us this is the case of a much known baroque church, built in Turin***:

St Lorenzo by Guarino Guarini, that we did not visit but became absolutely fascinated with this magnificent oeuvre, when we assimilated all the Christian sense and traditional ideas, that were «merged» in its dome conception.

But it is not the only example, as there are hundreds.

Here in Lisbon remember the Aqueduct with its huge arches: they are the highest ever built in stone.

Almost certainly, the pointed arch was a strong desire of John V (1689-1750) - the King recognized as Fidelíssimo (Most Faithful) by Pope Benedict XIV (1740-58).

The main Aqueduct crossing Alcântara valley, in spite of being called «Águas Livres» (Free Waters), was paid: highly taxed, as happens today, in endless sequences..., by Lisbon people. Its design from 1736 (see next post), is due to the royal architect Custódio Vieira (c. 1690-1744).

(click on the image)

*The first phase, built by Gérard De Visme, yet in the 18th century.

**Many authors sustain Louis Hautecoeur’s theory: they accept as true that «the complicated forms» were preferred. For us, one who realizes the evolution has been accomplished (then) - in complexity and not a useless complication – disagrees with the idea.

***See Monserrate…, op. cit., pp. 27-74, including references to Baroque Architecture, and (see pp. 261-275, figs. 90-119) extracts of medieval forms.

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Primaluce: Uma Nova História da Arquitectura
Agosto 2018
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