French Avallon, Burgundy, Gothic tracery, ca. 1300, Limestone; 109.2 x 141 x 27.3 cm (43 x 55 1/2 x 10 11/16 inches), Museum Appropriation Fund 40.156.1
This Gothic arch is an architectural element known as tracery, open stonework that supported increased height and allowed the passage of light into a building. The general crispness of the carving suggests that it was originally part of the interior decoration of a cathedral or abbey church. It may have been a segment of a triforium, a horizontal arcade defining a shallow gallery above the side aisles. The arch would have been supported by three slender columns, forming two tall lancet openings that ended in the tri-lobe curves seen here. The intersecting circles in the round opening above the lancets form fish-bladders, a configuration that was often incorporated into Gothic stone tracery and stained glass window designs. The delicate appearance of tracery enhanced the sensation of lightness and transparency that was a key component of Gothic architecture.