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The term "Gothic style" refers to the style of European architecture, sculpture (and minor arts) which linked medieval Romanesque art with the Early Renaissance. The period is divided into Early Gothic (1150-1250), High Gothic (1250-1375), and International Gothic (1375-1450). Primarily a public form of Christian art, it flourished initially in the Ile de France and surrounding region in the period 1150-1250, and then spread throughout northern Europe.
Its main form of expression was architecture - exemplified by the great Gothic cathedrals of Northern France. For the two main decorative styles, please see Rayonnant Gothic Architecture (c.1200-1350) and the later Flamboyant Gothic Architecture (1375-1500). The finest examples of Gothic design include: Chartres Cathedral (1194-1250); Notre-Dame Cathedral (1163-1345); Sainte Chapelle (1241-48); and Cologne Cathedral (from 1248); as well as the cathedrals of Canterbury, Winchester, Westminster Abbey and Santiago de Compostela. In Gothic design, the planar forms of the previous Romanesque idiom were replaced by a new focus on line. And its soaring arches and buttresses permitted the opening up of walls for unprecedently huge windows of stained glass filled with beautifully inspirational translucent images of Biblical art, far surpassing anything that wall painting or mosaic art had to offer. All this created an evocative humanistic atmosphere quite different from the Romanesque period. (During the late 14th century, a more secular Gothic style emerged, known as International Gothic, which spread across Burgundy, Bohemia and northern Italy.)
Gothic art, being exclusively religious art, lent powerful tangible weight to the growing power of the Church in Rome. This not only inspired the public, as well as its secular leaders but also it firmly established the connection between religion and art, which was one of the foundations of the Italian Renaissance (1400-1530). Among famous medieval artists in the Gothic style were Giovanni Pisano and Simone Martini of the Sienese School of painting.
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