Gothic style

Gothic style

The earliest buildings, announcing a new style, which flourished in France in the second half of the 12th century., began to appear in Krakow only in the period, when a systematic settlement action formed the outlines of today's city, so more or less 100 years later than in Western Europe. About 1250 r. the construction of the presbytery of the Dominican Church was completed, and in 1269 r. – Franciscan church. Although none of these buildings has survived in its original shape, worth knowing, that they differed from the previous ones, e.g.. the use of brick as a building material and a new system of vaults.

Really new gothic forms appeared in the building from 1320 r. the third in turn, the Wawel Cathedral. It had rib vaults, based on the acute arc, being the result of a long evolution of the construction art, which decided about the development of the gothic style. The gravitational forces of these vaults were balanced by the massive brick buttresses placed outside. The ambitious was a characteristic element, that is, a workaround around the presbytery, with pointed arches opening to numerous chapels surrounding the body of the cathedral from the outside. These chapels, built and rebuilt at different times, create a peculiar mixture of styles, in a strange way, however, harmonized with each other and influencing the remarkable beauty of the Wawel temple. Extremely lush urban and architectural flourish, not limited to sacred buildings, he experienced Krakow during the reign of Casimir the Great and the first Jagiellonians.

The most famous third St. Mary's Church comes from the time of the former – main bourgeois temple, funded by Mikołaj Wierzynek. Casimir the Great initiated the construction of two Gothic churches: st. Catherine and Corpus Christi – both are located in Kazimierz.

The basilica layout is a characteristic feature of most of Kraków's Gothic churches, that is, such, in which the nave (median) significantly surpasses the aisles.

Another distinguishing feature of the Gothic, and more broadly – Lesser Poland – is to combine brick as a building material with stone used for more decorative elements, like portals, jambs, window frames and traceries, that is, ornaments filling large gothic windows, at the same time constituting the construction of stained glass. Monuments of Gothic sculpture in Krakow show the entire development process of this field of fine arts in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The most valuable and representative are the royal tombstones from the Wawel Cathedral, from the tomb of Władysław the Short (patch 40. XIV c.) showing some features of the early style of the so-called. soft (the softly breaking robes of the king), through the tombstone of Kazimierz the Great (ok. 1380 r.) endearing with the sophistication of a mature style, Władysław Jagiełło (ok. 1440 r.) combining Gothic elements with early Renaissance influences of Burgundy-Flemish sculpture, up to the tombstone of Kazimierz Jagiellończyk (1492 r.) which is a masterpiece of late gothic, characterized by a strong expression of physiognomy, emphasized by the sharp modeling of the robes. The author of the latter tombstone is Wit Stwosz, who created his most outstanding works in Krakow, with huge, wooden altar from St. Mary's Church (1477-1489) at the forefront, which is an unattainable in Poland example of the final phase of the evolution of Gothic sculpture.

Also painting, especially in the 15th century, is going through a period of lush development. At that time, numerous painted altars were created in Krakow's workshops (triptychs and polyptychs), which despite strong Czech influences, and at a later stage also the northern European ones, show their own stylistic distinctiveness. In this case, the evolution of the style can be observed, similar to sculpture, in the arrangement of the robes of the depicted characters, which becomes more and more "sharp”. The background also changes – initially smooth, gold-colored, more and more varied over time by imprinting various patterns, to finally become a landscape background. In the case of wall painting, frescoes in the Byzantine-Ruthenian style attract special attention, decorating the walls of the Świętokrzyska chapel in the Wawel Cathedral (ok. 1470 r.).

It is said often, that gothic art expressed itself most fully in stained glass – also included in painting. In Krakow, in the 14th century, stained glass workshops were established. However, relatively few authentic examples of this genre of art have survived to our day. The most interesting are undoubtedly the stained glass windows from the Dominican monastery (ok. 1370 r,) and from the presbytery of St. Mary's Church (last quarter of the 14th century).