Gothic architecture and a scholastic: Jean de Jandun's "Tractatus de laudibus Parisius" (1323)
Jean de Jandun's "Tractatus de laudibus Parisius" is one of the earliest and most interesting of Parisian encomia. The author's detailed evocations of Notre-Dame, the Sainte-Chapelle, and the palace of Philip the Fair, documenting the contemporary reception of Gothic architecture, deserve greater attention than they have received to date. Primarily interested in architectural effects, Jandun praises the buildings for their size, varied decoration, transparency, and color, but pays little attention to their structural vocabulary or engineering. His "Tractatus" invites comparison with other medieval texts about art: his belief that a building's material beauty can stir the soul to devotion resembles that of Abbot Suger, while his distinction between superficial and acute perception is also found in Gerald of Wales; he implies that recognizing a building's quality requires a skill not possessed by all equally, a notion found in Boccaccio's contemporary praise of Giotto. Jandun's identity as a scholastic makes his "Tractatus" a useful means of testing the frequently alleged relations between Gothic architecture and scholasticism: a close analysis of Jandun's text argues against any necessary links between these two phenomena.
Inglis, Erik. 2003. "Gothic Architecture and a Scholastic: Jean de Jandun's 'Tractatus de laudibus Parisius' (1323)." Gesta XLII(1): 63-85.
International Center of Medieval Art