In his article on Frampton in the Studio, Aymer Vallance discusses a slightly later work, Our Lady of Promise (Royal Academy 1915) which he describes as a 'variant' of the present picture. 'In both paintings the Madonna, with her Child, is seated in front of a lofty belfry-tower. The broken classic columns nearby are meant to symbolise the decay and ruin of the old paganism, and the flourishing character of Christianity and its aspiring architecture. A slender tree beside the tower conveys the same message of vigorous growth'. The broken columns in The Gothic Tower are less prominent, and spring flowers replace the tree, but the symbolism is clearly similar.
Vallance goes on to describe the tower in Our Lady of Promise as 'a fairly literal rendering of the south-west tower of Rouen Cathedral, universally known as the Tour de Beurre', whereas the tower in The Gothic Tower 'is an original combination of Gothic details devised and arranged by the artist himself'. This may be so, but the composition is surely based on Jan Van Eyck's unfinished St. Barbara in the Antwerp Museum. It thus reflects a certain 'early Flemish' tendency in Frampton's later work, traceable again in A Maid of Bruges, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1919 (repr. The Last Romantics, exh. Barbican Art Gallery, 1989, cat. p. 100). This phenomenon has been seen in relation to the Symbolists' well known devotion to Bruges, exemplified by Georges Rodenbach's novel Bruges-la-Morte (1892), certain works by Fernand Khnopff, and Alfred Gilbert's retreat to Bruges in 1901; but it would perhaps be more accurate to view it as another instance of Frampton's preoccupation with 'primitive' styles. Conditioned to think in such terms by his long involvement with stained glass and mural painting, he had found early inspiration in Italy and in studying the work of Puvis de Chavannes and Burne-Jones, whose retrospective exhibition of 1892 struck him 'with the force of a revelation'. In later life, however, his interest seems to have focused on early Flemish art and Brittany, where, like Gauguin and his followers before him, he responded to the deeply religious character of the region and the local artistic tradition. Just as the Flemish tendency is reflected in A Maid of Bruges and our picture, so the Breton influence is seen in such works as A Madonna of Brittany (1911, Bradford; repr. Vallance, op. cit., p. 77) and Brittany 1914 (R.A. 1920; Tate Gallery), in which a French soldier and a Breton girl are seen praying at a wayside shrine