Written by Kiani Ned, Marketing & Curatorial Intern
The Gargoyle that seems so at home in the Italian garden, here at The Cummer Museum, made its original home on a building in New York City. In 1981, The Cummer Museum acquired the gargoyle because the building was slated for demolition. Now the gargoyle is safe from harm nuzzled near the Cummer Oak and surrounded by the many varieties of flowers that thrive in the Italian garden.
Though in the garden the gargoyle is harmless and almost cute, the symbol of the gargoyle throughout history has been associated with the grotesque. Some gargoyles were built to adorn buildings to scare away evil spirits. In Catholicism, the gargoyle was used in Gothic architecture to direct water from the sides of cathedrals and to also serve as a “sermon in stone.” These particular gargoyles illustrated stories from the Bible to the illiterate population.
Gargoyles have been used as decorative and functional elements of architecture since Greek and Roman antiquity and continue to be used today as a nod to the past. The Gargoyle that rests in the Italian garden serves to remind us of the influences of the garden in which it makes its home and perhaps it’s also watching over the gardens and making sure the roses continue to bloom beautifully every morning!