The Gothic Elevation

The most common sort of medieval ‘paper’ drawings – and the closest medieval analogue to our own notion of architectural drawing – took the form of Gothic elevations. Although few English specimens remain, those that do survive are close in size, character, and quality to the magnificent and detailed drawings from the cathedral lodges of Strasbourg, Vienna, Cologne, Ulm and Prague. Like their German counterparts, these elevations are characterized by an emphasis on linear surface treatment, a casual use of perspective, and a profusion of precisely drawn decoration. The exquisite detail suggests that they were an early type of ‘presentation’ drawing, intended specifically for building patrons, allowing them to envision the completed project before construction.

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