Gallery (architecture)

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The mirror gallery in the Palace of Versailles

A gallery (from Italian galleria or old French galilée for “long colonnade”) designates in architecture in the broadest sense a space that is longer than wide and has numerous light openings on at least one of its two long sides. The word probably goes back to the medieval galilea , which referred to a porch in a church.

In a narrower definition of the term, gallery refers to a walkway located on an upper floor, one of which is open to a larger room on one of its long sides. This can be implemented, for example, via a balcony-like construction or with the help of arcades . The gallery of this definition differs from the meaning-like gallery in that it can also be open to an outside space.


The first galleries were built on Romanesque church buildings as narrow walkways with arcades open on one side. If they are attached to the outside of a building, one speaks of dwarf galleries , which mostly also serve to structure the facade . If, on the other hand, the corridor is inside the church, it is called a triforium .

During the Renaissance, these corridors developed into an elongated area within the cubature of a building, which was used to develop several rooms - mostly for parties and receptions. Every room connected to such a gallery could be entered without having to pass through other, neighboring rooms. The first galleries of this type were built in the form of arcades in French castles at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries . Examples of this are the gallery of Ludwig XII. in the Blois castle and the gallery of the Fougères-sur-Bièvre castle . Because they are open on one side, they are also called open galleries . In the course of the 16th century, closed galleries developed from this in France . These are long, hall-like vestibules, the long sides of which had many large, glazed windows and which were therefore particularly bright. They were formed instead of the knight and ballrooms of medieval castles . The motif of self-portrayal, the demands and ideological ideas of the client determined their iconographic programs. An example that illustrates this is the 60-meter-long Franz I Gallery in Fontainebleau Palace . In Great Britain, the Long Gallery became a hallmark of Elizabethan and Jacobean architecture of the 16th and 17th centuries.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, during the Baroque period , the gallery was transformed into a splendidly designed ballroom, which was often located on the upper floor. The world's best-known example of this is the mirror gallery in the Palace of Versailles . The brightness resulting from the long rows of windows in the rooms invited people to display and display works of art in them. The current name gallery for art and painting collections results from this use of space .

Further examples of well-known galleries can be found in the Florentine Uffizi Gallery and the Louvre in Paris . The antiquarium of the Munich Residenz from 1568 to 1571 is one of the first examples of a gallery in Germany.

In the 1820s, shopping streets with vaulted glass roofs and shop windows facing the center aisle were built in Paris for the first time (so-called rue couvertes , covered streets) to protect pedestrians from rain and mud. They were also called galleries. When they formed a passage between two streets, they were also called passages . This design was also used by other major cities such as Milan; Brussels or Saint Petersburg taken over. Through the use of cast-iron supporting glass roofs, the galleries were partly widened in a hall-like manner. The building type was gradually replaced by large department stores since the 1870s.

See also → arcade


  • Monique Châtenet (Ed.): La galerie à Paris (XIVe-XVIIe siècle) (= Bulletin Monumental. Volume 166, No. 1). 2008, ISSN  0066-622X ( online ).
  • Rosalys Coope: The 'Long Gallery'. Its origins, development use and decoration. In: Architectural History. No. 29, 1986, ISSN  0066-622X , pp. 43-72, 74-84.
  • Jean Guillaume: La galerie dans le château français. Place et function. In: Revue de l'Art. No. 102, 1993, pp. 32-42, doi : 10.3406 / rvart.1993.348073 .
  • Johannes Jahn , Wolfgang Haubenreißer: Dictionary of Art (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 165). 10th edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-520-16510-4 , pp. 250-251.
  • Evelyn Korsch: Galleries . In: Werner Paravicini (Ed.): Handbook of Courtyards and Residences in the Late Medieval Empire. Volume 15.II, Part 1: Terms. Thorbecke, Ostfildern 2005, ISBN 3-7995-4519-0 , pp. 425-431 ( online ).
  • Jean Mesqui: Châteaux et enceintes de la France médiévale. De la defense à la residence. Volume 2: La résidence et les éléments d'architecture. Picard, Paris 1993, ISBN 2-7084-0444-X , pp. 148-161.
  • Bernhard Rösch: Gallery. In: RDK Labor . 2017.
  • Christina Strunck, Elisabeth Kieven (ed.): European gallery buildings. Galleries in a comparative european perspective (1400–1800). Files of the International Symposium of the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome, 23. – 26. February 2005 (= Roman Studies of the Bibliotheca Hertziana. Volume 29). Hirmer, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-7774-3551-0 .

Web links

Commons : Gallery (architecture)  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Friedrich Kluge, Elmar Seebold: Etymological dictionary of the German language. 24th edition. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-11-017473-1 , p. 326 ( digitized version ).
  2. Wilfried Koch: Small style of building art. Mosaik, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-570-02496-2 , p. 130.
  3. The Art Brockhaus . Volume 1, A-K. Brockhaus, Wiesbaden 1983, ISBN 3-7653-0355-0 , p. 386.
  4. Lexicon of Art . Volume II, Cin-Gree. Seemann, Leipzig 1989, ISBN 3-363-00045-6 , p. 628.
  5. Rosalys Coope: The 'Long Gallery'. Its origins, development, use and decoration . 1986, p. 43.
  6. ^ John Henry Parker: A Glossary of Terms used in Grecian, Roman, Italian, and Gothic Architecture . Volume 1, 5th edition. Parker, Oxford 1850, p. 226 ( digitized ).