Pierre Tarisel

Pierre Tarisel

Pierre Tarisel (b. about 1442; d. in August, 1510) was the Master-mason to the king of France, known for working on Amiens Cathedral.

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 renowned master-mason at Amiens at the time in which he lived. (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). He was already famous in 1475, when he was summoned to inspect Noyon Cathedral, which threatened to become ruined 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 in Arras, at work for the King of France. In 1500 the plan of Martin Chambiges for the restoration and decoration of Beauvais Cathedral was submitted to him. On 4 Nov., 1483, on 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 may show 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 7 March, 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 chainwork upholding the four large pillars of the transept running the length of the triforium in four directions still exists. All this was the work of Tarisel, by whom the cathedral of Amiens was saved from ruin in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.


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