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The Gargoyles of Notre-Dame: Medievalism and the Monsters of Modernity 1st Edition
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If, however, you wish to read an intensely detailed and thorough examination of the many and varied interpretations placed on the 54 chimeras,...(NOT the gargoyles, despite the title), ...placed on the gallery of Notre Dame de Paris by Viollet-le-Duc from 1854 onwards, then this is for you.
From their very first appearance, the "chimeres" have fired the imaginations of tourists, artists, politicians, doctors, psychologists of the insane,recorders of sexual deviation, other writers, early photographers and etchers, right up to movie makers and American writers of the gothic novel. Michael Camille examines each of the above groups and how they placed their own personal meanings on those amazing carvings by little known sculptor Victor Pyanet. The works are NOT, as so often supposed, original medieval works, nor even copies of pre-existing originals, but a collection of original fantasy so varied that they have become the stimulus for the wildly differing projections of so many groups. The true gargoyles, (the water-spouts), receive only a brief mention here. This book concentrates on the 54 chimeres, ...and especially the most famous of all known as Le Stryge, featured on the cover.
There are dozens of small illustrations in black and white of details, etchings, original designs, documents, photographs and other works inspired by Viollet-le-Duc's composite designs. Many you will not have seen before. This is an in-depth book for those who want to look behind the oft repeated tourist patter, or the trifling and often inaccurate pap so often found in glossy picture books on "Gargoyles".Read more ›
This author knows, and conveys in a very engaging manner, an unbelievable amount of interesting information about them. He talks about what they very probably meant to people at the time they were made, what they appeared to mean to people in the years since, and what they seem to mean to people now. It was fascinating how people's perception of them has changed profoundly over the years.
It was interesting to learn how very suddenly they captivated people, even before the official unveiling. Artists were allowed up to draw them before the unveiling, and one print became very popular immediately.
He also provides a wealth of fascinating information about the circumstances under which they were made. They were largely the vision of one artist, who told people he was designing them to look medieval but would have known very well that in fact they don't look like any medieval carvings. Instead, the author explains, they look like a romanticized 19th-century idea of what medieval carvings might have looked like.
Once, long before reading this book, I was disappointed to learn that the best-known gargoyles of Notre Dame were not originals, and that no one knows what the 13th-century originals looked like. The 13th-century originals were thoroughly worn stumps, and in some cases gone completely, before anyone bothered to record them. But after reading this book, I see that it doesn't matter. The originals, whatever they looked like, were certainly not anywhere near as good. These gargoyles, from the 1850's restoration, were designed by an excellent artist and carved by a brilliant sculptor.Read more ›