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Flamboyant (from French flamboyant, "flaming") is the name given to a florid style of late Gothic architecture in vogue in France from about 1350 until superseded by Renaissance architecture during the early 16th century, and mainly used in describing French buildings. The term is sometimes used of the early period of English Gothic architecture usually called the Decorated Style; the historian Edward Augustus Freeman proposed this in a work of 1851. A version of the style spread to Spain and Portugal during the 15th century. It evolved from the Rayonnant style and the English Decorated Style and was marked by even greater attention to decoration and the use of double curved tracery. The term was first used by Eustache-Hyacinthe Langlois (1777-1837), and like all the terms mentioned in this paragraph except "Sondergotik" describes the style of window tracery, which is much the easiest way of distinguishing within the overall Gothic period, but ignores other aspects of style. In England the later part of the period is known as Perpendicular architecture. In Germany Sondergotik ("Special Gothic") is the more usual term.
The name derives from the flame-like windings of its tracery and the dramatic lengthening of gables and the tops of arches. A key feature is the ogee arch, originating in Beverley Minster, England around 1320, which spread to York and Durham, although the form was never widely used in England, being superseded by the rise of the Perpendicular style around 1350. A possible point of connection between the early English work and the later development in France is the church at Chaumont. The Manueline in Portugal, and the Isabelline in Spain were even more extravagant continuations of the style in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.
In the past the Flamboyant style, along with its antecedent Rayonnant, has frequently been disparaged by critics. More recently some have sought to rehabilitate it. William W Clark commented:
The Flamboyant is the most neglected period of Gothic architecture because of the prejudices of past generations; but the neglect of these highly original and inventive architectural fantasies is unwarranted. The time has come to discard old conceptions and look anew at Late Gothic architecture.
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