Gargoyle or Grotesque?
The Gothic Revival
Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral
Le Stryge
The Commission
des monuments historiques
Grotesque Humor
The Troyes Cathedral Corbel

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Gravely Gorgeous: Gargoyles, Grotesques and the Nineteenth-Century Imagination
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Albumen print: photographic print produced from paper coated with a mixture of egg white (albumen) and ammonium chloride (salt) and sensitized with silver nitrate. The sensitized paper was then placed in contact with a glass negative and set in bright sunlight until an image materialized and darkened to the correct level of tone. The albumen print was the dominant photographic process of the nineteenth century. For more information, see: rmc.library.cornell.edu/adw/albumen.htm

Capital the upper part or crowning feature of a column. Capitals provide a transition between the column shaft and the element they support, and generally feature sculptural decoration.

Chimera in Greek mythology, a fire-breathing female monster resembling a lion in front, a goat in the middle, and a dragon behind. She devastated Caria and Lycia in Asia Minor until she was slain by Bellerophon. In architecture, the term applies loosely to any grotesque, fantastic, or imaginary beast used in decoration.

Commission des monuments historiques the first organization in France officially to acknowledge an interest in medieval architecture. Founded to protect and preserve and restore France’s architectural heritage.

Corbel an architectural device, often decorative, that projects from a wall and supports weight.

Gargoyle a decorative waterspout that drains water from a parapet gutter. The term is often, although incorrectly, applied to other grotesque beasts, such as the chimeras that decorate the parapets of Notre Dame de Paris.

Gothic the style of architecture and visual arts of Western Europe produced during the period from about 1120 until the late fifteenth century. The introduction of many stained glass windows on load-bearing walls, as well as the pointed arch and ribbed vault are often recognized as hallmarks of Gothic architecture.

Gothic Revival usually applies to a style of architecture and the decorative arts inspired by the Gothic architecture of medieval Europe, and was one of the most potent and enduring of nineteenth century architectural styles. University buildings and churches were constructed in the Gothic style in England and the United States well into the twentieth century.

Grotesque a style of decorative art that features fantastic human and animal forms, often distorted into absurdity or ugliness. The word is derived from the Italian grotteschi, or grottoes, which refers to decorations found during the excavation of Roman houses around 1500.

Romanesque: style of the architecture of Western Europe from the tenth to the twelfth century. The rounded arch supported on plain pillars is often singled out as an identifying characteristic of Romanesque architecture. Romanesque capitals are often elaborately carved with robust, sometimes humorous or grotesque ornaments.

Stryge: archaic French word for vampire

Wet collodion emulsion, glass plate negative: the dominant photographic negative produced in the nineteenth century. A glass plate was first coated with collodion (a cellulose nitrate-based material dissolved in ether and alcohol), then treated with silver nitrate to render it photosensitive. While wet, the plate was exposed in a camera, then developed and fixed. The negative had to remain wet throughout the sensitization and exposure in the camera, as drying rendered it insensitive to light. Usually, the negatives were contact printed with albumen printing paper (see above).

Gallery of images