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When I hear the word gothic I think about fashion and the goth look with lots of black lipstick and eyeliner.  But there is a different gothic style that was popular from 1825 to 1880: Gothic Revival.  This was a revival of the gothic style from the medieval period.  One of the most famous original European gothic buildings is the Notre Dame de Paris.  With its spire, flying buttresses, and rose window it is an excellent example of French gothic architecture.  Gothic Revival took stylistic cues from the buildings of the medieval period using the pointed arch-shaped windows, rose window design, castle/church style, and tall spire in furniture and architecture.

The Gothic Revival permeated many levels of society in the United States.  This desk and bookcase from The Farmers’ Museum is an example of Gothic Revival done in a more scaled-down manner.  The secretary is quite tall, evoking the height of the original gothic buildings. The doors on the bookcase portion have gothic style pointed arches as the only real design.  The desk and bookcase is made out of two different types of wood, cherry and maple, and it looks as though the cherry may have been stained two different shades so that the entire object had three different tones.  It is a very simple piece of furniture with very little decoration, but still shows that the owner knew what styles were acceptable and modern.  So while the owner may not be in the upper class, he or she had enough money to participate in current fashions.

C. Wolf

Images from Fenimore Art Museum/New York State Historical Association and The Farmers’ Museum collection include fine art, folk art, photography, Native American art and farm related objects.  Images of objects in the collections are available for scholarly or commercial publication, personal reproduction or research.  Photographic images must be requested through the Rights and Reproductions Department.

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