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The Romanesque period of art started after the empire of Charlemagne divided at the end of the 9th century. This art was dedicated to the glory of God. Romanesque architecture revived and applied Roman principles of construction. Strong piers and columns replaced slender columns. The atrium disappeared and was replaced with square composition and tower pairs. The nave was divided from the aisles. The crypt, which developed from the earlier burial chambers, became extremely large, so that in some cases the whole area beneath the chancel had to be raised in order to accommodate it.

Romanesque architecture was not a single idea, nor could it be defined as having one perfect example. Rather, it was a blending of minds and ideas that showed a remarkable diversity and experimental expression. It is recognizable, however, and it is notable in that it led to the Gothic style. Good examples are in Normandy, Burgundy, and Provence. Paintings during the period hung in the churches or were done on illuminated manuscripts that were used during services. Many of these paintings have been lost, but frescoes at St. Savin and Berze-la-Ville in Normandy have survived. Reds and yellows were favorite colors, and the paintings feature simple forms, with broad treatments. The manuscript illumination techniques practiced by the German artists used bright colors to show figures against Oriental carpets, for example.

At the end of the 11th century, sculpture achieved a place of prominence, in keeping with the complex architectural forms that were emerging. Biblical, mythical and legendary subjects abounded, along with plants and animals. In England, carved free-standing crosses were popular. These crosses, executed before the Norman Conquest, are carved in high relief. Pier reliefs in churches were popular in Spain, and the German sculptures of the period were also best represented in the churches of the period. Craftsmen executed beautiful gold and jewelry pieces, using statues of saints and walls, floors and benches to show their talents.

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