False Gargoyles removed from Church of Notre Dame of Dijon after fatal accident

Early evening in Dijon France is as inspiring as the early morning. Our adventure started out seeking a wee bite of sustenance. Following what-has-become-after-three-days our usual path, we enter the far side of Park Darcy and follow the path to the top by the trees.

top area of Park Darcy warm April evening  by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 008

We walk along the top of the fountain and I stop to sigh a small regret as I had hoped to spend the afternoon painting from this vantage point.

Park Darcy view from above the fountain by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 012

Instead I spent most of the day in the Dijon Fine Arts Museum which was wonderful but meant no time for painting. I shall keep this photography sketch for later reference.

The April light in Dijon already has the harsh sharp contrasts that I generally associate with summer on the west coast of Canada. The sun is warm but the shade is still cool. Though we were in just our light sweaters, others had layered up in winter coats.

April Evening on The Streets of Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 020

We eventually found a plat du jour to our liking and after including a glass of wine, a shared peach tart and expresso doppio I convinced David we should go find that great church we had seen on our first walk through the city when we had been looking for the Les Halles market. The last light was leaving golden trails across the tops of the building and I wanted to pocket a little of that to take home with us.

It is the Church of Notre Dame of Dijon that we were seeking and it was just around a couple of corners and a little more to the north from where we had dinner. Let’s see. Yes, there it is!

Church of Notre Dame of Dijon by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 035

A person might reasonably think it was the evening light coming through the stain glass windows that I found inspiring.

westerly evening sun back lighting Church of Notre Dame of Dijon by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 084

They are lovely enough but it not what caught my eye and curiosity. It was these!

false Gargoyles from the side by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 061

These are false gargoyles and there are 51 on the west side of the Church. There were false gargoyles to the left of where I was standing.

false Gargoyles to the left by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 050

There were false gargoyles to right and the clock with its jacquemart above

false Gargoyles to the right Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 055

and false gargoyles in the middle. Let’s just say 51 false gargoyles is a lot of gargoyles.

false Gargoyles in the middle by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 058

They are false gargoyles because they do not have a spout that is designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building thereby preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between. Oh but they are curious intriguing things! I had to know more.

The wikipedia story for the Church of Notre-Dame of Dijon’s false or dummy gargoyles goes like this:

According to the account of the monk Étienne de Bourbon, the original gargoyles were in place for only a short time: they were removed around 1240, following a fatal accident. A usurer was killed on the church forecourt as he was about to get married: a stone figure representing a usurer became detached and fell on him. His colleagues organised the destruction of all the dummy gargoyles on the façade, except for one at the upper right corner that survived until the 1960s, when it was replaced. Some 19th-century engravings do not show this gargoyle, but it can be seen in photos taken before 1880. The gargoyles at the sides and the back of the façade remain.

The dummy gargoyles which today decorate the façade, and which represent human beings, animals and monsters, were made in 1880-1882, during the restoration of the church. According to the archives, they were the work of seven Parisian sculptors: Chapot, Corbel, Geoffroy, Lagoule (also known as Delagoule), Pascal, Thiébault and Tournier.

Note: a usurer is a person who lends money and requires the borrower to pay a high amount of interest.

If you were to name one of your least favourite relatives (dead or alive) after a false gargoyle – what human being, animal or monster would they be?

Oh! Please do NOT disclose the name of the relative or leave any identifying clues. In this case, anonymity is a must 😉

Now, far too soon,  it is time to start packing our belonging and say good-bye to this beautiful city. Tomorrow we continue on to Basel Switzerland where I am not sure I will have internet access so you might not receive another post from me until we get to Venice, Italy.


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

5 thoughts on “False Gargoyles removed from Church of Notre Dame of Dijon after fatal accident

  1. Looks like a fair about of gargoyles ! Truth be told, I be thinking way too many in one place. LOL I don’t know I think I might have had to stay in Dijon a bit longer. Just saying but I know you have a plan. How was the museum?

    • Museum was great Jeff and free. I posted two paintings on my Facebook that really stood out for me and that I could find online. I will likely do a separate blog post just about that one experience.

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