Gargoyle

Medieval French 

 replica: from Facsimiles Ltd., Nashua, NH

gift of: Dale and Cathy Gunderson

date of the original: c. 13th century AD

provenance of the originalin situ on the west facade of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

description:Sitting gargoyle. Large nose, protruding eyes and large 
eyebrows. Ears to side with scales running down either side of body. Large clawed feet. Resin replica; grey cathedral stone original. Height 15 cm, width 13.25 cm, depth 21 cm.

Perched on the balustrades, staring over the city, crouching, grimacing, ready to spring and pounce, are hundreds of grotesques--the gargoyles of Notre Dame. According to legend, the gargoyles had been chased from the interior of the Cathedral by the Virgin Mary, who kept them as guardians. Unfortunately, most of the gargoyles now on the Cathedral are the restorations of Eugene Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879, a prominent French architect who specialized in the restoration of Gothic buildings), the originals having gradually weathered away. Our replica is, however, a copy of one of the few remaining originals on the Cathedral.

Gargoyles are not found on architecture until the Gothic period. Originally, they were spouts which allowed water to escape from the roof gutters and clear the walls. They were named from the French gargouiller (to gurgle) which approximated the sound made by the water gushing through these spouts. In the 14th and 15th centuries AD, gargoyles were also used purely as decoration, and in the 16th century, with the introduction of lead drain-pipes, they became functionally obsolete.

(See also: Notre Dame Panels.)