Roucham-Flambeaux

“Froissart, in his chronicles, calls it the “Age of Love,” a very natural reaction from the burning intensity of the age of religious chivalry. With the appearance of religious carelessness we find a certain decline of the high ideal from the honor of chivalry to the license of chivalry and the parallel decadence of the monuments to the dominant ideal as it became less spiritual. But that the ideal still had power to move me to create beautiful things, we have ample proof.

“The churches were still Gothic, but the style was transformed by the changing ideal into one quite different from that of the austerely aspiring cathedrals. It was sensuous, flamboyant, studiously careless, joyfully flippant, but still very beautiful, so that you must love it. The term flamboyant (flaming) has been retained as most expressive of the style, and it fits admirably.”

–Minnie D. Kellogg, “Flowers from Mediaeval History” c1910

I’ve been considering a new design for a prospective client. In a short bit of discussion we came to consider the idea of doing a piece decorated in the Flambeaux or Flamboyant Gothic style. A little tinkering with compass and straight edge and I did at least manage to determine the primary proportions for the tracery panel.

It is difficult to work in flambeaux without adding complication. After all, our modern connotation of the word “flamboyant” derives from the description of this style of Gothic Tracery and Architecture, the word which initially meant “flame like.”

The hallmarks of flambeaux are four-centered arches with tall peaks, supporting lancets, and an overlapping interplay between the individual cosmetic elements. With a certain eye, the flambeaux style resembles writhing fire.

Getting back to the source material, I’m now thinking of cribbing from the turret on the Palace de Justice at Rouen (France) for primary inspiration.

Palace de Justice at Rouen. Note the high-peaked arches and supporting elements of the second story windows of the turret.

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