Author Topic: Manueline Architecture  (Read 330 times)

Offline Optatus

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Manueline Architecture
« on: April 27, 2018, 01:34:56 PM »
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Portuguese Late Gothic, also known as Flaming or Manueline.

One of the legacies of the success of Portugal at the time of the voyages of discovery is the unique style of architecture that reflected the glory of Portugal’s achievements, a unique style of architecture that did not catch on elsewhere in the world.

The intricacy and vibrancy of the art is one of Portugal’s trademarks and examples may be found in many forms throughout the Portugal and also a bit all over the former Maritime Empire.

The term `Manueline´was coined in 1842 by Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen, Visconde de Porto Seguro in the Académia Brasileira de Letras. The term describes the Portuguese contribution to the European Gothic style. Brazil was not ready in the 16th century to accept proper Manueline architecture, but abounds in 19th century neo Manueline.

The accession to the throne in 1495 of D Manuel, Duke of Beja, was as miraculous as the architecture that bears his name. He was the ninth and youngest child of D Fernando, who was Duke of Beja and brother to D Afonso V (1438 - 1481). The only son of D João II was killed in a horse-riding accident, D João II himself stabbed to death his own cousin D Manuel´s older brother, and D Manuel became the sole surviving heir. No wonder that D Manuel was called O Venturoso (the Fortunate)!

D João II bestowed on his heir D Manuel I his own personal device of the armillary sphere - a model of the movements of the sun and the planets. One of the distinguishing features of Manueline art is the presence of this sphere, and any building bearing this symbol in stone is indubitably Manueline. Another is the Cross of the Order of Christ and others are heraldic symbols and ropes represented in stone.

As D Manuel became more prosperous with the new spice trade, he commissioned more and more buildings. The sudden requirement for expert stonemasons could be satisfied only from abroad and the builders came from all Europe to work for Portuguese master masons, such as the brothers Arruda (Tomar, Torre de Belém); the Fernandes (Batalha); the French Boytac (Batalha, Coimbra, Jerónimos) and the Biscayan Juan del Castillo (Tomar).

Noble and rich families followed their royal master and the building works which they commissioned were financed by the profits of the expanding spice trade. While noble patrons often paid to beautify the chancel and sacristy of a church, the nave was the part used by the common people and it was their responsibility to decorate it. This fact illustrates why some churches were unevenly developed. The demand for the new Manueline adornment was such that many of the masons were either inexpert or tyros.

Dominant features are an exuberance of forms and a strong symbolic-naturalistic interpretation of original, traditional or erudite themes. The window in both religious and secular buildings, is one of the architectural elements where you can best observe it. These motifs appear in constructions, pillories, tombs or even art pieces, such as jewelry, of which the Monstrance of Bethlehem is an example.

A decorative set of a Manueline sculptural element Manueline almost always presents itself as a stone patchwork, where various elements and references crossover (pansemiose - or "all meanings"): Christian symbols, alchemy, folk tradition, etc. The context can be either moralizing, allegorical, esoteric, or simply celebrating the imperial power of D. Manuel I. This symbolism is also closely related to heraldry.

The most common motifs in Manueline architecture are the armillary sphere, given as a token by D. John II to his cousin and brother, the future King Manuel I, later interpreted as a sign of a divine plan for the reign of King Manuel, the Cross of the Order of Christ and naturalistic elements: corals, algae, artichokes, pines, various animals and fantastical elements: "Ouroboros", mermaids, gargoyles.

Despite the immense losses occasioned by the earthquakes of 1531, 1719, 1722 and most famously 1755, we still have many buildings from the Manueline period. The most famous examples of the style are: the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Belém; the Torre de Belém; the Royal Cloister and the Unfinished Chapels, Batalha; and parts of the Convento de Cristo in Tomar.

Some examples attached.
 
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