Autonomous German art begins only with the creation of a national state after the partition of the Carolingian Empire. Its first phase therefore falls into the Romanesque period of European art, and can be divided into three periods; the archaic period, which takes its name from the Ottoni dynasty and reaches up to the middle of the century. XI; the median period that reaches up to the end of the century. XII; and the last period during which the Gothic style formed in France infiltrated. This last period, which will be dealt with in the following paragraph, is called a transition period; and while not ending at the same time everywhere in Germany, it can be considered closed in the middle of the century. XIII, although the Romanesque style remained in the western provinces even longer. The development of art was influenced by other centers,
In sacred architecture the basilica with opposing choirs was particularly successful, giving greater movement to the architectural masses together with the towers, not isolated but grafted onto the body of the buildings. The German Romanesque basilicas, which cannot be separated from the universal Romanesque architecture, express strength from their stone body, rhythm in the grouping of their masses themselves, both outside and inside, where the pillars alternate with columns as in churches Lombard and high rises the presbytery on the crypts.
The rapid increase in the number and size of buildings demonstrates how intense the activity of German Romanesque architecture was. Its principal centers were in Saxony and on the Rhine; on the other hand southern Germany has only a few Romanesque remains, and moreover often heavily reworked. Here the most important buildings are Sant’Emmerano in Regensburg and three churches on the island of Reichenau; in Saxony, in Quedlimburgo; in Magdeburg, in Merseburg, in Gernrode, in Hildesheim (church of St. Michael), in Gandersheim, in Corvey, in Paderborn, in Soest; in the Rhineland the capitular church of Essen, S. Maria in Campidoglio in Cologne, the cathedral of Trier stand out. The ruined convent of Hersfeld in Hesse, the cathedrals of Würzburg and Bamberg belong, at least in plan, to the early Romanesque period,
For the most ancient phase of German Romanesque architecture two factors assume in the second half of the century. Considerable importance: the formation and expansion of the school of Hirsau, and the beginning of the use of the vòlta. The Benedictine monastery of Hirsau, in the Black Forest, which passed to the Cluniac reform, had promoted a more rigorous discipline and the independence of the Church from any secular authority, finding supporters many convents in southern and central Germany, and, in smaller numbers, those of northern Germany and the Rhineland, which had been the centers of Romanesque architecture. The architectural type preferred in Hirsau spread uniformly throughout: the double choir and crypts were suppressed, the presbytery, the choir and the transept were united in two lateral choirs separated by the aisles; the churches were often preceded by atrî towers were built on the side of the transept and on the western facade. Most of these modifications were connected with the reform of the liturgy and with the revival of monastic life. As for the general spirit of the new constructions, the relations with Burgundy are evident; but in particular the dependence on Cluny is not immediate and the Hirsau school must be considered as an autonomous movement inspired by the same principles and aspirations. Of the second church of Hirsau, from which all that reform originated, only the ruins remain; but a series of other churches all built around 1100, in Alpirsbach, Petershausen, Constance (cathedral), Prüfening, Paulinzelle, Hamersleben and others still enlighten us on the architectural character of this school.
At the same time, as in Italy and France, basilicas began to be built in vaults. They are chronologically preceded by the church of Santa Maria in Campidoglio in Cologne (v.), Begun in the preceding period and consisting of a concentric domed building with roofed basilical naves, probably due to the influence of Lombard constructions (Como, S. Loyal). The use of the vaulted roof on the naves begins, after a few negligible attempts, in the cathedral of Speyer begun in 1030 and finished in 1106. The Ichnography did not undergo any changes from that already used for flat roofing; each span of the central ship corresponded to two spans of the aisles; the pillars of the major vaults were accentuated only in a somewhat later period by means of projections corresponding to the corbels of the vault. This system, fully developed only in the Laach abbey church, was naturally perpetuated with many variations, until the middle of the century. XII, when it was slowly replaced by the Gothic style. Romanesque on the Middle Rhine are, in addition to the two buildings already mentioned in Speyer and Laach, the cathedrals of Mainz, of Worms, of Fritzlar, the church of St. Matthias in Trier and St. Castor in Koblenz; on the lower Rhine, the convent churches of Knechtsteden and Braunweiler, of St. Maurice in Cologne; in Saxony and Thuringia, St. Godeshard near Hildesheim, the convent church of Königslutter, the cathedral of Brunswick, on which those of Lübeck and Ratzeburg depend; on the upper Rhine the cathedral of Basel should be named, where the proximity of Lombardy is felt. The Italian influence is also noticeable in Bavaria, in Reichenhall and in Salzburg. In the SE. in Germany, a preference for the type of church with naves of equal height can also be noted right now, which later became, in the Gothic architecture, very common (Carthusian church in Prüll, S. Leonardo in Regensburg, the church of the Cistercians in Walderbach, that of St. Peter in Augusta, etc.). In general that region of Germany was less open to innovations than the western regions and more tenaciously attached to traditions: its most important construction, the church of St. James in Regensburg, stuck to the roof covering showing only in the Norman elements of the decoration the action of more modern currents. Gothic architecture, very common (the Carthusian church in Prüll, S. Leonardo in Regensburg, the Cistercian church in Walderbach, the church of S. Pietro in Augusta, etc.). In general that region of Germany was less open to innovations than the western regions and more tenaciously attached to traditions: its most important construction, the church of St. James in Regensburg, stuck to the roof covering showing only in the Norman elements of the decoration the action of more modern currents. Gothic architecture, very common (the Carthusian church in Prüll, S. Leonardo in Regensburg, the Cistercian church in Walderbach, the church of S. Pietro in Augusta, etc.). In general that region of Germany was less open to innovations than the western regions and more tenaciously attached to traditions: its most important construction, the church of St. James in Regensburg, stuck to the roof covering showing only in the Norman elements of the decoration the action of more modern currents.
The works of painting and sculpture that have come down to us from the Romanesque period are rather scarce. The frescoes in the church of St. George on the island of Reichenau (Lake Constance), freed in 1880 from the plaster that covered them, give us the interior decoration of a completely painted church almost intact. Already towards the end of the century. IX painters from Reichenau had worked in the convent of St. Gall; near the end of the century. X the cathedral on the island of Reichenau had been decorated with paintings praised by contemporaries; nor must those which cover the central nave of the church of San Giorgio and extend even over the columns and other architectural members have to be much later. The main frescoes represent eight miracles of Christ and, on the western wall, the Last Judgment. If the others draw on the usual Western tradition, the Last Judgmentinstead, it is an original creation of German art that has always favored this eschatological theme. Similar to the frescoes of Reichenau, which attest to an admirable maturity and technical safety, are those of the same school, in the choir of the church of Goldbach near Uberlingen, representing the apostles, and the Last Judgment of Burgfelden in Württemberg of the second half of the century. XI, in which the drama of individual episodes took over from the solemnity of the great Reichenau fresco. From the later Romanesque period, southern Germany retains only the paintings of the choir of the Prüfening convent church, executed shortly after the middle of the century. XII and imbued with the mystical spirit that informed the order of Hirsau, to which Prüfening belonged, and which manifests itself in the abstract, ornamental character, of the figures of the prophets and apostles, subordinated, compositionally, to the allegorical representation of the Church. On the Lower Rhine remain the frescoes of Schwarzrheindorf and Braunweiler, the first dating back to between 1151 and 1156, the others a little later. They too intend not to narrate to everyone, but only to serve as edification for the small circle of those initiated into spiritual things. In the vault of the church of St. Michael in Hildesheim, the pictorial decoration preserved intact is singular. but only to serve as an edification for the small circle of initiates into spiritual things. In the vault of the church of St. Michael in Hildesheim, the pictorial decoration preserved intact is singular. but only to serve as an edification for the small circle of initiates into spiritual things. In the vault of the church of St. Michael in Hildesheim, the pictorial decoration preserved intact is singular.
The centers of activity of the miniature coincide with those of mural painting. The most important school was that of the island of Reichenau, whose influence extended even more than that of the schools of Trier and Regensburg. His capital works are the code of Egbert now in Trier, the Gospels of Otto III, that of Henry II and that of Echternach (Gotha). The best works of the Regensburg school in this period are the sacramentary of Henry II and the gospel book of Abbess Uta in Niedermünster (Munich). The miniature of the Ottonian period is distinguished from the Carolingian one by less display of decoration, by an extraordinary variety of content and by the intense expressive force.
The scarce works of primitive German Romanesque sculpture that have come down to us do not allow us to find a homogeneous and well-defined line of development. The reliefs of the door of the cathedral of Hildesheim, pervaded by a sincere and lively force of expression, should be remembered above all. Almost all the other admirable bronze monumental works also belong to the art of North Germany: the “column” of Bishop Bernard in Hildesheim; the bronze doors sent to Gniezno and Nizhny Novgorod; the lion that Duke Henry placed in 1166 in front of Brunswick Castle (v.). Northern Germany also seems to excel in wood and stone plastics. The wooden shutters of the church of S. Maria in Campidoglio in Cologne are singular, in Externstein the stone relief (1115), 5 meters high, representing the deposition from the cross, an outstanding work for its monumentality, grandeur of composition and depth of feeling. The largest monument of plastic in southern Germany, the portal of St. James in Regensburg, on the other hand lingers tenaciously in decorative and illustrative schemes, without possessing the plastic consistency typical of Romanesque sculpture. If to these works are added some isolated sculptures, such as the crucifix of the Brunswick cathedral, that of the Münster Museum coming from an unspecified location in Westphalia, theSeated Madonna of the Treasury of the Essen Cathedral and the standing one of the church of S. Maria in Campidoglio in Cologne, as well as some examples of funerary plastic, such as the tomb of Rudolph of Swabia in the cathedral of Merseburg, that of Archbishop Frederick of Wettin in the Magdeburg cathedral, the tomb of Queen Plektrude in Cologne and of the abbesses in Gernrode, we see how uncertain German sculpture has been in its address, now referring to architecture, now seeking inspiration in painting.