Facts and interesting information about Medieval Art, specifically
during the Middle Ages
and the Gothic Arch
Gothic architecture is characterized by stained-glass windows, flying
buttresses, tall spires, the Gothic arch or pointed arch and Gothic Gargoyles. Gothic
Architecture is the term used to describe the style of architecture
which were used between 1200 AD to 1500 AD. The different types of
English Gothic Architecture styles are divided into three distinct
Definition and Origin of Gargoyles
Gargoyles came into gothic architecture in the early 13th
century and are defined as "a waterspout, projecting from an upper part of a
building or a roof gutter to throw water clear of walls or foundations." The origins of the word 'gargoyle' are derived from the old French word 'gargouille'
meaning throat. In Architectural terms only the creature serving as actual
water spout is called a Gargoyle, otherwise is it known as a Grotesque. A
grotesque may function solely as decoration.
Description of Gargoyles
- What do Gargoyles represent?
Gargoyles were usually carved in the form of a
grotesque face, figure or frightening creature projecting from a roof
gutter. Gargoyles were painted and some were even gilded. Gargoyles might
depicted any number of grotesque images including:
Ugly human faces
Gargoyles combining several animals are also
referred to as chimeras
The materials used for the earliest
Gargoyles were made of wood or even terracotta but early Medieval Gothic
gargoyles were made of stone. Later gargoyles, especially in churches,
were predominantly limestone and marble, although metals such as lead were
also used in fashioning some gargoyles. Stone gargoyles were carved on the
ground and then put into place when the building was almost at the point of
Stone Gargoyles in
Gargoyles are a fascinating element of Medieval Architecture. These
frightening, grotesque sculptures are most often associated with Medieval Churches and
Cathedrals but they were also used to great effect in English Gothic
castles. Gargoyles are frightening and intimidating sculptures - perfect for
the likes of great lords who built elaborate fortresses and
castles in order to crush and intimidate the indigenous population. However,
whilst gargoyles were included in the construction of many medieval
buildings, they seem to be most prevalent on churches.
What is the purpose of Gargoyles?
What is the purpose of Gargoyles? The first is
a practical purpose - gargoyles provided a method of drainage which
protected the stones and the mortar of churches, cathedrals and castles from
The number of Gargoyles added to buildings were numerous because dividing
the flow of water minimized potential water damage. The second purpose
of gargoyles was as 'guardians' of the buildings in the form of abstract
symbols designed to represent, and to ward off evil.
What do Gargoyles
What do Gargoyles represent? Gargoyles all have
a common theme, they are carved with big wide-open mouths. Whilst this was a
practical, functional and necessary requirement of gargoyles creatures and
images with mouths wide open are symbolic of devouring giants. And lets be
honest, how could Medieval stone masons make anything look beautiful when it
has to be displayed with a big wide-open mouth!
Gargoyles History -
Church Gargoyles; a representation of hell?
Gargoyles History dates back to antiquity.
Gargoyles can be found in Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Roman and Ancient Greek
architecture although they are most commonly associated with Medieval Gothic
architecture. Ancient history, myths,
legends and pagan religions abound with stories of frightening and fantastic
creatures. Creatures that fired the imagination. Creatures you would only
ever meet in your worst nightmares. Perhaps the Medieval church wanted to
convey a terrifying impression of hell and enforce that there was safety and
sanctity inside the church. The devil would be a most inappropriate, and
totally unorthodox, image to allow on a church - fantastic gargoyles, would,
however have a similar, terrifying psychological effect.
Stone masons had free choice of their
gargoyles should depict or look like. It is an interesting fact that there
is no two gargoyles which are exactly the same!
Medieval Art - Gargoyles
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Gargoyles during the historical period of the Middle Ages. The content of this article on Medieval art provides free educational details, facts and information for reference and research for schools, colleges and homework for history courses and history coursework.