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Gothic > Intro

There are two distinct Gothic styles in the eighteenth century. The first, what we might call “early eighteenth-century Gothic,” is a revival of medieval styles, especially in architecture, as a form of cultural nationalism. Manor houses were built in the style of the Tudor castles of the Middle Ages because this were thought to be an indigenous “English”style that symbolized the English values of tradition, security, and strength at a time of great political and economic rivalry with France. In the later eighteenth century, the Gothic style came to be associated with another aspect of medievalism: the mysterious and spooky world of the Catholic church at the time of the Inquisition, for example, and the bright jewel-like colors, flat perspective, and sometimes gory piety of fifteenth-century church painting. So we might see early eighteenth-century Gothic manor houses using the classic pointed arch of the Gothic style, but the same pointed arch in a late-century building like Walpole’s Strawberry Hill is used in an exaggerated, almost campy way to symbolize style for its own sake, even decadence. The later Gothic style also expanded to include Gothic literature, painting and garden design.


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