ARCHITECTURE LUXURY HOME DESIGNS

he architectural language of secular and reli- gious building in the Gothic period shows itself most clearly in the fact that the inflected or ogee arch, which occurs in many different forms in almost every Venetian Gothic palace, and seems to be of Moorish or Eastern inspiration, is relatively uncommon in ecclesiastical buildings. Meanwhile the simple, two-centred Gothic arch, widely used in the churches, generally appears in domestic architecture only in the most solid elements, such as the main portals and the arches supporting external staircases fig. 39. Because of local anxieties about the safety of vaulted structures on the unstable Venetian terrain, secular buildings in the city retained their tra- ditional flat, wooden-beamed ceilings throughout the Gothic period. Thus the structural raison d’etre of the Gothic style – to allow the erec- tion of higher and higher vaults, with more flexibility in ground-plan – was completely irrelevant in Venice. This must have worried Ruskin, for whom Venetian Gothic was the finest expression of the style, for in his discussion of The Nature of Gothic’ he affirmed that buildings ‘are not Gothic unless the pointed arch be the principal form adopted either in the stone vaulting or timbers of the roof proper’. 29 According to such a definition, virtually none of the Gothic palaces of Venice would qualify as ‘true Gothic’, although Ruskin would never have been so rigid or so consistent as to insist on this point. We must admit, however, that his elaborate structural justification of the Gothic style has little validity in Venice, where Gothic forms in civil architecture are primarily decorative. The Venetian Gothic surely appealed more to Ruskin’s visual and moral sensibilities than to his reason.
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