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Heavenly Vaults
From Romanesque to Gothic in European Architecture
David Stephenson

ISBN 9781568988405
Publication date 11/26/2009
11 x 11.5 inches (27.9 x 29.2 cm), Hardcover
192 pages, 125 color illustrations, 15 b/w illustrations
Rights: World; Carton qty: 6; (-1.0)

This book is Out of Print

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The Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages are among the world's greatest architectural achievements. Looking up at the soaring vaulted ceiling of a Gothic church, it is impossible not to marvel at the seemingly unending design variations of these transcendent structures. Photographer David Stephenson, author of our best-selling book of dome photography Visions of Heaven, continues his exploration of the architecturally sublime by focusing his camera on the amazing vaulted ceilings of the medieval churches, cathedrals, and basilicas of Europe. Stephenson presents more than eighty Romanesque and Gothic vaults in kaleidoscopic photographs that reveal their complex geometrical structures, decorative detailing, and ornamental painting in ways they have never before been seen.

From simple arched stone tunnels, or so-called barrel vaults, to quadripartite and sexpartite rib vaults, to intricate tierceron and lierne vaults with their added decorative ribs, to complicated net, fan, and diamond vaults of the late Gothic period, Stephenson's visual taxonomy of this ancient structural form is strikingly beautiful and showcases numerous varieties across time and location. In an accompanying essay, the author charts the history of the vault and explains its technological developments. A foreword by photography curator Isobel Crombie puts Stephenson's work in context.

Dr. David Stephenson is an associate professor at the School of Art, University of Tasmania, Hobart. His work has been exhibited throughout the world and published in numerous publications. Stephenson is the author of Visions of Heaven.

Editorial Reviews

Nonfiction Reviews, Publishers Weekly:
"The author and photographer of these vaulted European church ceilings from the 12th through the 16th centuries directs readers' attention to the emotional resonance and liberating sensation one feels in these buildings, and to the spiritual meaning of the symmetries and mathematical proportions employed in their construction. At the book's core are 104 pages of color photographs that capture these symmetries and let readers discover their pleasures. Stephenson (Visions of Heaven) provides a straightforward architectural history of the structures and their evolution into delicate traceries suggesting floral patterns and ending with the rampant vegetal images of the late Gothic style."

Holiday Books Gift Guide, Newday:
"In Heavenly Vaults: From Romanesque to Gothic in European Architecture, photographer David Stephenson looks up to the harmoniously patterned ceilings of the Pantheon, Chartres, Canterbury Cathedral and other sacred buildings." — Peter Terzian

"David Stephenson's new book of photography is a love letter to the intricate, seemingly sui generis vaults of Europe's Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals and churches. Half the wonder of these soaring architectural feats is that they were devised and built at all. The other half comes with the realization that we will never build this way again: It takes too long. It's too expensive. We don't know how.These buildings, some nearly a millennium old, are charged with the grandeur of God, as though their architects, suddenly doubting that it could be read in nature, decided to codify it in stone. The skyward vaults suggest their faith's holy order, the majestic possibilities of men working to glorify their creator, the intimation, the endurance of infinity."

Holiday Gifting II, Anna Sheffield Jewelry:
"This Book looks downright Spiritually uplifting.. the Religion part aside. Look at that Vaulted ceiling- a feat of the human hand, but also of the spirit. Click HERE to read the entire review on"

Divine Inspiration, The Smart Set:
"Apparently science and religion do have a lot in common after all...both appreciate great geometry. Heavenly Vaults: From Romanesque to Gothic in European Architecture, a new book by David Stephenson captures the inspired design of some of Europe's great cathedrals. Einstein once said all religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree, these vaults certainly support that theory."

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