International Gothic Style

International Gothic Style

The gothic style of painting, sculpture and decorative arts that developed in the last quarter of the 14th and first quarter of the 15th century spread widely across Europe – this created the name for the period – the international style.
The International Gothic style acted as a bridge between Gothic art and Renaissance art.

Characteristics of the style

  • Curving lines & Abundance of movement
  • Mastery of miniature portrait painting
  • Human figure:
    • elongated, curved
    • delicate facial features, blond hair, small lips
    • Few emotions, gestures, typically sweet and smiling
    • Figures were depicted in an elegant and graceful style, although compared with later Renaissance art they possessed a certain artificiality.
  • decorative (patterns, colors) – more details and bright colours
    • ornate architecture
    • Introduction of natural details with symbolic character
    • Clothing - This style is characterized by ornate costumes embellished with gold leaf and by subject matter literally fit for a king, including courtly scenes and splendid processions
  • gold, raised gesso
  • realism in nature or non-aristocratic figures/elements – the beginnings of real landscape painting
  • Importance of the anecdote - narrative
  • OVERALL: elegant, otherwordly, escapist, decorative 

The Wilton Diptych 

You will need to be able to answer the following areas when studying the International Gothic Style:

  • Style
  • Representation of the human figure
  • Function
  • Period in which it was produced.
  • composition

Les Trés Riches Heures du Duc le Berry

Exam questions


Describe and discuss Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry by the Limbourg brothers which is illustrated on the accompanying sheet making reference to style, composition, function and the period in which it was produced

name, and briefly describe and discuss one other work from this period. 
Illustrate your answer.


Discuss one of the following works in detail, making reference to technique/style and the period in which it was produced:
The Virgin and Child window from the Cathedral at Chartres. 
A painting by Duccio
The Wilton Diptych.
Name and describe one other work from the same periodIllustrate your answer.


The Wilton Diptych and Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry are examples of the International Gothic style.
Discuss and compare these works with particular reference to style, representation of the human figure and function. Both works are illustrated on the accompanying sheet.
Illustrate your answer.