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The Spitting Gargoyle of Notre Dame Cathedral Statue
Own the father of all gothic gargoyle statues!

Whether you're a history lover, a connoisseur of gargoyle decor or are looking for an unparalleled gargoyle gift, there's no place like Design Toscano for discovering fascinating Gothic creatures!

Through an exclusive arrangement with the French Ministry of Architecture, Design Toscano is the only company ever granted permission to cast the famed Spitting Gargoyle statue atop the Cathedral of Notre Dame! Read on to learn more about the father of all Gothic gargoyle statue...

What is a Notre Dame Gargoyle?

"Gargoyle" comes from the Old French "gargouille" and the Late Latin "gurgulio," both meaning throat. Medieval gargoyles are just that - ornate, "throaty" drainpipes! Most rooftop chimera statues are designed with a passageway inside to direct rainwater out through the gargoyle's throat and away from the building.

The first gargoyle figurines were carved more than 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece. Gargoyle statues were often grotesque animals carved from stone, iron or lead, and were usually depicted ready to leap or take flight. Gargoyle figurines have long represented evil and mischief, leading the Catholic Church to commission the appointment of gargoyle statues on cathedral rooftops in an effort to encourage its largely illiterate congregants to display proper church behavior.

The most famous gargoyle figurines are argued to be those atop Paris's famed Cathedral of Notre Dame. Few others can compare with the carved, medieval, half-man and half-beast gargoyle statues that reign over Paris. Sitting high atop the city and looking down from their lofty perches, the chimera statues guarding the Cathedral of Notre Dame open their medieval stone gargoyle mouths to allow rainwater to fall free of the cathedral, thereby preventing damage to the masonry.

Gothic creatures haven't always ruled Notre Dame

Long before Gothic creatures stood sentry from high atop the 700-year-old Notre Dame de Paris, other holy houses occupied the same ancient ground. The Celts held their services on what we now know as "Ile de Cite" in the Seine, and the Romans built a temple to Jupiter there as well. In 528, Childebert constructed a basilica dedicated to St. Etienne, which was eventually replaced by a Romanesque church. It wasn't until 1163 that construction on the current Catholic cathedral began, under the watchful eye of King Louis VII.

Called "The World Ambassador of Gothic Cathedrals," Notre Dame is French for "Our Lady." Requiring almost 40 years of construction, this amazing Parisian centerpiece and its ornate gargoyle decor have since undergone myriad transformations, including the addition of towers and transept crossings. Throughout its storied history, Notre Dame has been the site of numerous royal ceremonies: The cathedral placement of the Crown of Thorns in 1239, the crowning of Henri VI of England, the crowning of Mary Stuart, Queen of France, and the crowning of Emperor Napoleon and Empress Josephine.

Visitors, statesmen and royalty come and go, but one group of "residents" has remained the same - the world's most well known cathedral gargoyle statues. As famous as they are today, it's hard to believe how close they came to being forgotten altogether. It began with the introduction of the lead drain pipe in the 16th century, causing the notoriety of Notre Dame de Paris' statues to fade along with the aging building. Then, during the French Revolution of the late 1700's, many Cathedral treasures were destroyed or looted and the beloved gargoyle decor fell into general disrepair. The church itself was used as a storehouse for food and supplies while friend and foe ravaged its beauty. The great tower bells managed to escape being melted down, but many gargoyle statues fell victim to the destruction felt by the Cathedral at large.

Viollet-le Duc jumpstarted the world's love affair with the Medieval gargoyle statue

Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, a famous Parisian architect, spearheaded the drive to restore and preserve the wonders of Paris following the French Revolution. Viollet-le-Duc's knowledge of medieval building techniques allowed for a reconstruction of all parts of the cathedral's structure, including the gargoyle figurines. Notre Dame, the jewel in the city's crown, would once again display the world's most legendary rooftop medieval stone gargoyles.

Under the architect's meticulous guidance, much of Notre Dame's early splendor, including the medieval gargoyle statues, was restored to its original Gothic intention. It was Viollet-le-Duc himself who first ordered the re-creation of the spitting gargoyle statue in the 1840s and ultimately returned the chimera statues to their lofty homes high atop Paris. The gargoyle statues survived both World Wars virtually intact and are still admired by millions today.

How Design Toscano courted the Notre Dame Gargoyle

Design Toscano met with the French Department of National Trust for Historic Objects. After much negotiation, special arrangements with the Cathedral of Notre Dame were made and at last we were granted exclusive rights to directly cast this beloved French monument, the spitting gargoyle statue.

Under the guidance of the Director of Ancient Artifacts at the Louvre, a carefully orchestrated team hand-cast the Notre Dame gargoyle from high atop the Cathedral itself. Master mold-maker Michel Lorenzi and his daughter/assistant, Sophie Lorenzi relied on an arduous 12-step process to hand-cast the medieval stone gargoyle, effectively capturing every the nook and faithfully replicating the aged appearance of the limestone original.

Thanks to the exacting work done by the Lorenzis, our direct cast of the medieval gargoyle statue is a truly accurate replica of this famous gargoyle figurine, displayed teetering on his haunches and ready to strike, just as he appears today from his legendary Parisian perch. Bring home a piece of history with our mythical, Design Toscano-exclusive Spitting Gargoyle of Notre Dame, cast in quality designer and finished in faux stone to be displayed as a coveted and historic work of art.

Where the Notre Dame Cathedral Gargoyle Statue finds its modern home...

Though medieval stone gargoyles were relegated to the tops of buildings, today's gargoyle figurines are found both indoors and out! Design Toscano customers are as likely to place their gargoyle lawn statues or gargoyle garden statues flanking a front driveway as they are to nestle a medieval cathedral gargoyle near a spa tub. Gargoyle decor is welcome in upscale homes and also makes a clever gift for nearly any occasion. If you're smitten with history, architecture or French culture, our gargoyle statues make fascinating, Gothic additions to any home or garden. Our Spitting Gargoyle Statue, in particular, creates an instant gallery and is a true investment in good taste.



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Master Mold makers Michel
and Sophie Lorenzi casting
the Gargoyle for Toscano
on the outer walls
of the cathedral