As promised, today's post is a closer look at the Gallery of Chimeras, as designed by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, architect in charge of the cathedral's restoration which began in 1845 and lasted twenty-five years. Most of the original grotesques (also called chimeras) were too far gone to restore, and so they were removed, and Viollet-le-Duc, along with Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus, designed new ones.
I have already addressed the speculations regarding the appropriateness of such disturbing images upon a cathedral in an earlier post about gargoyles, so I won't revisit that discussion, except to say that if you remember the series of Chick Cartoon Tracts and their comic book series The Crusaders, you'll know that the Church has used this type of imagery to raise the awareness of evil in other applications, and so this might not be as odd as you think. However, I doubt you will ever see such grotesques on the facade of the latest mega-church in America any time soon.
For a more detailed study of these odd, fascinating creatures, check out Michael Camille's book: The Gargoyles of Notre Dame.