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Pierre Tarisel

Master-mason to the king, b. about 1442; d. in August, 1510

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Tarisel, PIERRE, master-mason to the king, b. about 1442; d. in August, 1510. (In 1555 the title of architect was used at Amiens for the first time, but it was not until 1609 that a master-mason of the town called himself an architect). We have no details concerning his birthplace, save that he belonged to no family of masons known at Amiens. It is certain that he was the most renowned master-mason at Amiens at the time in which he lived. He was already famous in 1475, when he was summoned to inspect the cathedral of Noyon, which threatened to become ruinous in many places. Although he was not then entitled master-mason of the city, he was so in fact, as nothing of importance was done without him. In 1477 he was at Arras, at work for the King of France. In 1500 the plan of Martin Cambiche for the restoration and decoration of the cathedral of Beauvais was submitted to him. On November 4, 1483, at the death of Guillaume Postel, Pierre Tarisel was appointed master-mason of the city of Amiens. His predecessors had been paid at the rate of 4s. per day; according to the accounts which have been preserved, Tarisel received 5s. The rate was again reduced to 4s. for his successor, which shows with what esteem his talent was regarded.

There is no document to show in what year he became master-mason of the cathedral; but it seems certain beyond doubt that he fulfilled these duties in 1482-83. On March 7, 1497, Tarisel visited all the cloistered houses subject to the cathedral chapter. Shortly afterwards he undertook the task of restoring the cathedral. The second pillar of the choir, on the left, threatened to fall, but under Tarisel's direction it was restored in 1497. The projecting arch and the arches near it were restored, and the outer wall was propped by an additional flying buttress. In 1503 the same was done for the remaining pillars. Between 1497 and 1503 the pillars of the transept "buckled", owing to the weight of the rear side arches, and cracks formed. The remedy was found in bands of Spanish iron, reaching from the transept to the ends of the choir, the nave, and the cross bars. The great iron chain work upholding the four large pillars of the transept running the length of the triforium in four directions still exists, and is justly famous. All this was the work of Tarisel, by whom the cathedral of Amiens was saved from ruin in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and which is a sufficient claim to renown.

M. VACCON


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