The cathedral of Clermont exists as an interloper of the northern French Gothic style in a region long faithful to the Romanesque tradition. Without local stylistic antecedent, it appears without warning as an example of the mature Rayonnant style in an area where the preceding phases of Gothic architecture virtually had been ignored. Robert Branner's recent hypothesis, which postpones the beginning of construction from 1248 to 1262-1263, is important for the analysis of the cathedral's chronology, and its place within and impact upon the general development of Gothic architecture in the second half of the 13th century. Is the cathedral choir a monument which took shape in the late 1240s to the 1260s and logically builds upon the premises of Amiens, Reims, Beauvais, and the Paris transepts? Or is it, as Branner states, a tardy example of the restrained Court Style architecture of the mid-13th century? A careful analysis of the surviving documentation, corroborated by a study of the building itself, yields the conclusion that the choir of the cathedral of Clermont was constructed between about 1248 and 1280. Through a careful study of the plan and the fabric of the cathedral, the sections of the choir which were erected under the supervision of Jean Deschamps may be isolated. Though Deschamps can be credited only with the hemicycle and parts of the forechoir of Clermont, his work was followed scrupulously by his successors. This examination of Clermont and the work of Jean Deschamps sheds new light on the building history of a cathedral which, serving as a model for many of the major Gothic structures of the Midi, takes an important first step in defining the career of one of the key figures in French Gothic architecture of the second half of the 13th century.

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