Essential Architecture-  Search by style

Rayonnant French Gothic (c. 1240-1350)

The nave of the Abbey Church of St Denis- The northwest nave of Saint Denis at sunset Reims Cathedral Sainte-Chapelle- The upper chapel of the Sainte Chapelle, restored by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century
     
Rayonnant is a term used to describe a period in the French Gothic architectural style circa 1240-1350. Following from High Gothic, Rayonnant buildings took the ideas underpinning the French Gothic movement to their most accomplished level. In other schemes of the history of Gothic, Rayonnant comes after "lancet Gothic". After about 1350, the Late Gothic, Flamboyant style followed.

Gothic architecture is characterized by light and Rayonnant takes this to the extreme with buildings being so transparent that they appear lace-like from the exterior. The viewer can see through the walls of the building at many different perspectives. A famous example of Rayonnant architecture is La Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. This chapel was built for Louis IX's personal use, and while the lower story is quite enclosed, the second story is almost entirely glazed.

Some sources derive the term from the chapels spreading from the apse that are typical of the style; others from the tracery of rose windows, also typical of Gothic churches, especially cathedrals. In ideal gothic aesthetics, the petals of the rose radiate from the center of the window, thus the term "rayonnant" (from the French word meaning "to radiate").
France Paris Saint-Denis: the Basilica of St Denis, North transept Rose window, subject: The Creation, with God at the centre, the six days of Creation, the Zodiac representing the order of the heavens, the labours representing the order of the earth, Adam and Eve eating the fruit and being expelled from Eden.
Strasbourg