Unusual circular gothic stone motif
November 4, 2014 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm intrigued by the unsual commixtion of international gothic and arabesque-bordering-on-oriental architectural detailling I just saw in Palma de Mallorca, atop the La Seu cathedral's Mirador portal: the tear-shaped, almost paisleyform reworking of the typical gothic window tracery into a rather original stone "rose" (with a Christ Redemptor in the centre).

Art history material is scarce online, and various searches about the portal turn up the names of sculptors at work on the statues, but not much on the decorative work. This circular "interpretation" struck me as so unusual as to possibly be a later addition - though that seems unlikely. Is there further/better information on this particular instance of gótico mallorquín to be found anywhere (preferably on the web)?
posted by progosk to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Possible clue: Here's another Mallorca building designed by Guillem Sagrera, the architect of the portal. Notice similar paisley shapes in the window mullions (depicted in one of the rotating slide show pictures). Perhaps this is evidence that Sagrera designed the rosette above the door? In any case it indicates the paisleyform tracery is not unique to the portal.
posted by beagle at 9:31 AM on November 5, 2014

Response by poster: Sagrera is a very solid lead: besides his two windows for the Lonja/Llotja in Palma, here's a rosette window of his at the Maschio Angioino in Naples!

So the question is: were these just flights of personal creative fancy, or is there some traceable origin in these peculiar designs...?
posted by progosk at 3:08 PM on November 5, 2014

Best answer: I'm finding references to Sagrera's patterns as "Flamboyant tracery", sometimes with a capital F, as distinguished from the more geometric or Rayonnant tracery. The flamboyant style incorporated reverse curves resembling "tongues of flame."
Writeup. Search "flamboyant Gothic tracery" and more comes up, including these details at Milan Cathedral, a possible antecedant to Mallorca, and at Limoges.
posted by beagle at 6:19 PM on November 5, 2014

Response by poster: OK, that all really captures it, thanks beagle. (Are there dates/names for that Milan rosette? It looks a lot more fluid than the Palma circle....)

It's considerations like Clark's, that you linked, that I was looking for. (MeFi nails it, once again!)
posted by progosk at 12:01 AM on November 6, 2014

Best answer: Just guessing, but I think Milan might be much later. Clark says the Flamboyant style kicks off in the last few decades of the 14th Century. The Mirador work was begun in the 1390s, making it "some of the earliest Flamboyant tracery in Catalonia." Before it got to Catalonia, the Flamboyant style had made an appearance in France in the 1380s. Some sources point to an even earlier English origin. (A paper on this topic.) That English style is referred to as the English Decorated style, which had not quite the paisleys but certainly the reverse curves in its tracery. The "curvilinear period" of the English Decorated style is defined as 1290 to 1350; Wikipedia lists some examples . Here's another, Church of St Mary, Snettisham, Norfolk, England (which dates from 1340), which incorporates unambiguous paisleys in its tracery.
posted by beagle at 9:36 AM on November 6, 2014

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