Architecture · Art History · Gargoyle of the Day · Gargoyles · Medieval Art and Architecture

Gargoyle of the Day: Chartres Cathedral, France

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Scorpio carving on above the left door of the West (Royal) Portal of Chartres Cathedral in France. Photo by Nick Thompson via Flickr [Creative Commons].
This grotesque is on the west portal of Chartres Cathedral – among the grandest and most famous of all French Gothic churches. While its close cousin in Paris is famous for its gargoyles, Chartres is celebrated for its beautiful stained glass and profuse sculptural decoration. Much of this sculptural work is clustered around its nine arched doors (portals); there are three on each of the three main facades, and each façade has a specific thematic program of decoration. This above grotesque resides on the north portal of the west façade, which is also called the Portail Royal (Royal Portal). The Portail Royal is among the oldest portions of the building,  one of the few to survive the  devastating 1194 fire that destroyed an earlier structure and led to the construction of the building we know today. This figure is supposed to represent Scorpio in a series of images depicting the signs of the zodiac, but he looks pretty creepy and nightmarish to me.

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