Heavenly Vaults: From Romanesque to Gothic in European Architecture by David Stephenson takes you on a journey through medieval churches, basilicas and cathedrals in England, France, Spain, Italy, and other European countries.
The photography by Stephenson is stunning. You will recognize the perspective immediately if you have ever wandered through an old cathedral with your head tipped back, staring straight up at the arching stonework overhead. The sense of height captured in the pictures is remarkable, and the photos are cropped to give a sense of perfect geometry and balance.
This is coffee table sized book, with a single photo filling each page. Often the side-by-side pages are pictures from the same church: one showing the nave, the other showing the crossing, for instance. The images of the stonework, painted designs and stained glass of these vaulted ceilings are kaleidoscopic as you turn the pages.
The text is at the back of the book, where you will find a history of the construction techniques of these ancient churches. There are thumbnail photos and page numbers there, to send you back to the original picture.
The photographer has captured the awe-inspiring beauty of these grand structures and allows us, in his words, to see “the great Gothic churches as some of the most compelling art ever produced, still capable of providing an all-encompassing transcendent experience.” Direct from the comfort of your armchair.