The Master of Angers



Abbot Gírad d’Cist took an avid interest in the drawings the master mason etched in smooth plaster to help guide construction, especially those that depicted how Angers Cathedral would look to an observer.  He clapped his hands in delight.

“You must understand, Excellency,” said the master mason, “we are years away from what you see here. Decades.”

“Of course,” said the abbot. “Still, I would like to view it.”

The mason walked him around the grounds, showed him the great footings dug into the soft earth, the stacks of rough stone awaiting the chisels that would shape them into useful blocks.

“Why is that man off alone?” asked the abbot, pointing.

“That man? He is Giles Mallant,” said the master mason. “He carves our gargoyles. A curious fellow. Insists on his own place to work, his own stone.”

Abbot Gírard could see the mason did not wish to visit the carver, but his curiosity got the better of him and he walked over. The man muttered and growled as he worked. He looked up at Gírard’s approach. “You come to see my sinners, have you?” he grunted.

The abbot saw to his horror that the stone bore the  living likeness of a man enduring the tortures of hell, writhing and wincing in agony, so real it seemed to be moving.

“Remarkable,” he said, voice shaking.

“This here man was trapped in stone long  before I came to free him,” said the carver. “Not that it’s a favor, poor bugger.”


Sunday Photo Fiction


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  1. Joy Pixley

    To paraphrase that famous apocryphal quote: just carve away all the parts of the stone block that are *not* the tortured man trapped inside, and there you have a gargoyle.

  2. EagleAye

    Excellent! That’s an old concept, that the sculptor does not “form” the shape, he merely “releases” it from the stone. I always liked the idea. I love the way you characterized this. It feels like I was there, observing the scene.

Don't just stand there.