Typical Characteristics Of Romanesque Art

characteristics of romanesque art

Romanesque art was affected by shifting political powers following the Carolingian period and the mobility during the Crusades. This art form refers to the art of Europe from the 10

‘Romanesque’ term was invented by the 19


A group of bushes and trees

The Roman architecture combined features of the Roman and Byzantine buildings along with the other local traditions. This architecture is distinguished by a very good quality, thick walls, sturdy piers, round arches, large towers, groin vaults and decorative arcades. Each building has a clearly defined form with a symmetrical plan. It results in a much simpler appearance than the Gothic buildings. The style is also identified across Europe, despite of the materials and characteristics.


A living room filled with furniture and vase of flowers on a table

Apart from architecture, the art period is also characterized by a powerful style in paintings and sculpture. In the churches, the painting followed the Byzantine iconographic models. Christ in Majesty, the Last Judgement and the Life of Christ had clear depictions of this arm form. The illuminated manuscripts have lavishly decorated examples of the period. As the new scenes were show, more originality occurred. They used saturated primary colors, that existed in original brightness only in stained glass and in well-preserved manuscripts. Stained glass first came to proper use during this period. There were other few surviving examples as well.

There was little depth in the pictorial compositions, as they were limited to the narrow spaces of the initials, capitals and church tympanums. The tension between a tight frame and a composition that sometimes escapes its designated space occurs in a recurrent theme in this art form.


Sculpture also had a vigorous style that was evident in most carved capitals of columns. These often showcased complete scenes showing several figures. The precious objects sculpted in enamel, metal and ivory such as reliquaries also had high status in this period. The large wooden crucifix and statues of the enthroned Madonna were German innovations at the start of the period. The high relief carvings of architectural elements are most evocative of this style.

The church portals were carved with monumental schemes, that again depict Christ in majesty or the Last Judgement but treated with more freedom than in painted versions. These portals were meant to both educate the viewer and to intimidate them as well. As there were no equivalent Byzantine models, this felt free to expand in their treatment of tympanums.

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