Ornate door. Roman wall painting in the Villa Boscoreale, Italy (1st century AD).
Of the 11th and 12th centuries there are numerous examples of bronze doors, the earliest being one at Hildesheim, Germany (1015).
The Hildesheim design affected the concept of Gniezno door in Poland. Of others in South Italy and Sicily, the following are the finest: in Sant Andrea, Amalfi (1060); Salerno (1099); Canosa (1111); Troia, two doors (1119 and 1124); Ravello (1179), by Barisano of Trani, who also made doors for Trani cathedral; and in Monreale and Pisa cathedrals, by Bonano of Pisa.
In all these cases the hanging stile had pivots at the top and bottom. The exact period when the hinge was substituted is not quite known, but the change apparently brought about another method of strengthening and decorating doors, viz, with wrought-iron bands of infinite varieties of design.
As a rule three bands from which the ornamental work springs constitute the hinges, which have rings outside the hanging stiles fitting on to vertical tenons run into the masonry or wooden frame. There is an early example of the 12th century in Lincoln; in France the metal work of the doors of Notre Dame at Paris is perhaps the most beautiful in execution, but examples are endless throughout France and England.
Returning to Italy, the most celebrated doors are those of the Battistero di San Giovanni (Florence), which together with the door frames are all in bronze, the borders of the latter being perhaps the most remarkable: the modeling of the figures, birds and foliage of the south doorway, by Andrea Pisano (1330), and of the east doorway by Ghiberti (1425–1452), are of great beauty; in the north door (1402–1424) Ghiberti adopted the same scheme of design for the paneling and figure subjects in them as Andrea Pisano, but in the east door the rectangular panels are all filled, with bas-reliefs, in which Scripture subjects are illustrated with innumerable figures, these being probably the gates of Paradise of which Michelangelo speaks.
The doors of the mosques in Cairo were of two kinds; those which, externally, were cased with sheets of bronze or iron, cut out in decorative patterns, and incised or inlaid, with bosses in relief; and those in wood, which were framed with interlaced designs of the square and diamond, this latter description of work being Coptic in its origin.
The doors of the palace at Palermo, which were made by Saracenic workmen for the Normans, are fine examples and in good preservation. A somewhat similar decorative class of door to these latter is found in Verona, where the edges of the stiles and rails are beveled and notched.
Old double French doors (6 lites each), with hinges on the exterior, they must open outward; it is uncertain whether there is a central mullion, without which it could be called a French window albit not being typical Lexington, North Carolina, USA
In the Renaissance period the Italian doors are quite simple, their architects trusting more to the doorways for effect; but in France and Germany the contrary is the case, the doors being elaborately carved, especially in the Louis XIV and Louis XV periods, and sometimes with architectural features such as columns and entablatures with pediment and niches, the doorway being in plain masonry.
While in Italy the tendency was to give scale by increasing the number of panels, in France the contrary seems to have been the rule; and one of the great doors at Fontainebleau, which is in two leaves, is entirely carried out as if consisting of one great panel only.
The earliest Renaissance doors in France are those of the cathedral of St. Sauveur at Aix (1503). In the lower panels there are figures 3 ft (0.91 m). high in Gothic niches, and in the upper panels a double range of niches with figures about 2 ft (0.61 m). high with canopies over them, all carved in cedar. T
he south door of Beauvais Cathedral is in some respects the finest in France; the upper panels are carved in high relief with figure subjects and canopies over them. The doors of the church at Gisors (1575) are carved with figures in niches subdivided by classic pilasters superimposed. In St. Maclou at Rouen are three magnificently carved doors; those by Jean Goujon have figures in niches on each side, and others in a group of great beauty in the center. The other doors, probably about forty to fifty years later, are enriched with bas-reliefs, landscapes, figures and elaborate interlaced borders.
When it comes to the world's largest door, there is not just one, in fact there are four and they all belong to NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center. The Vehicle Assembly Building was originally built to assembly of Apollo and Saturn vehicles and was then used to support Space Shuttle operations. Each of the four doors are 139 meters or 456 feet high, in comparison the Statue of Liberty is only 93 meters or 305 feet high.
The oldest door in England can be found in Westminster Abbey and dates from 1050. In England in the 17th century the door panels were raised with bolection or projecting moldings, sometimes richly carved, round them; in the 18th century the moldings worked on the stiles and rails were carved with the egg and tongue ornament.
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Acknowledgement; Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Door