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Lombard Architecture

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LOMBARD ARCHITECTURE is the style which was invented and used by the Gothic invaders and colonists of the n. of Italy, from about the age of Charlemagne till it was superseded by the importation of the pointed style from France in the beginning of the 13th century. The architecture of the Lombards was derived from the Romanesque (q.v.), or debased Roman style which they found in the country—the general plan of the churches, and the general form of the pillars, arches, etc., being almost identical wit-h that of the Roman basilicas (q.v.). But in detail there is no such resemblance; the Roman traditiong aro entirely abandoned, and instead of the debased acanthus leaves and fragments of entablatures, so characteristic of the Romanesque style, the Lonibards adopted a freer imitalon of natural forms in their foliage, and covered their buildings with representations of the fights and hunting-expeditions in which they delighted. On their first arrival in Italy they used Italian workmen; but when their own people became more numerous they also laid aside the sword for the trowel. Accordingly, wherever in n. Italy the Lombards were numerous, their style prevailed; and where the Ronutns predominated, the Rornanesque prevailed. The n. of Italy belonged naturally', at the thne of Charlemagne, to the great German empire, and thus we find nearly the same style of architecture in Lombardy and in Germany as far n. as the Baltic. See RHEN ISH ARCHITECTURE. Few early examples of Lombard architecture exist. In the unruly times when the style originated, the buildings were no doubt frequently destroyed by fire; this seems to have led to the desire to erect fireproof structures, and thus the ear lier as well as almost all the later examples are vaulted with stone, whereas the Roman esque basilicas are generally roofed with wood. This stone roof seems to have been the great desideratum in the new style. The earliest example is a small chapel at Friull, built probably during the 8th c., and it is covered with an intersecting vault. Examples of this date are rare in Italy; but in Switzerland, where the style is almost identical, several interesting spechnens of early architecture remain, such as the churches of Romain-Motier, Granson, Payerne, etc., in which the transition from the Rotnanesque to the round-arched Gothic is very clearly traceable. We there find the peculiar arch ornament so characteristic of Lombardy and the Rhine, and we can trace the timid.

steps by which the Goths advanced in the art of vaulting.

The vaulting is the leading feature of Lombard architecture, and from it spring the other distinguishing forms of the style. Thus, the plain, round pillars, with a simple base and capital, which served to support the side-walls and roof of a basilica, are changed for a compound pier, made up of several shafts, each resting on its own base, and each provided with a capital to carry the particular part of the vaulting assigned to it. This change is deserving of particular notice as the first germ of that principle which was afterwards developed into the Gothic style (q.v.). Buttresses are also intro duced for the first time, although with small projection.

The cathedral of Novara is one of the most striking examples of Lombard architec ture. It belongs to the 11th century. It is derived from the old basilican type, having at the w. end an open atrium, with arcade around, from which the church is entered by a central door. The interior is divided into central and side aisles, with vaulted roof, and terminated with an apsidal choir. At the end of the atrium opposite the church, is situated the baptistery. At Asti there is an interesting example of the early Lombard baptistery. .The same general arrangement of plan afterwards became common in the German churches, the atrium being roofed over and included in the nave, and the bap tistery forming the western apse of the double-apsed churches. The elevation of Novara is ornamented with those arcades and arched string-courses so common in Lombard and Rhenish architecture.

San Michele at Pavia and San Ambrogio at Milan are also good early examples of this style. In both, the grouping of the piers into vaulting shafts, wall-arch shafts, etc., is complete, and that beautiful feature of the style, the arcade round the apse, is fully developed. The atrium and w. front of San Ambrogio forrn one of the finest groups of Lombard architecture.

Lombard architecture is important as forming a link between the Romanesque of Italy and the Gothic of the Cisalpine countries. On the one baud, its origin can be traced back to the Roman basilicas; while on the other it embodied those principles from the development of which sprang the great Gothic style of the middle ages.