THE FINE ART OF GROTESQUES

THE FINE ART OF GROTESQUES
November 13, 2011 Gregory F. Shue II

For thousands of years, grotesques have captivated viewers for their elegantly orchestrated composition, combination of fantastical, man-made and natural elements, and juxtaposition of artistic restraint and unbridled exuberance. Here are some examples of what has become a very uncommon art form, also known as the Fourth Pompeian Style.

These first several examples are from the Domus Aurea (Nero’s Golden House) in Rome, which were uncovered in the late sixteenth century, and documented in Vestigia delle Terme di Tito by Brenna, Smuglewicz, and Carloni, 1776.  Please click on the images to see them in much greater detail.

From Room 11 of the Domus Aurea

From Room 21 of the Domus Aurea

From Room 23 of the Domus Aurea

From Room 25 of the Domus Aurea

From Room 25 of the Domus Aurea

From Room 25 of the Domus Aurea

From Room 26 of the Domus Aurea

The Domus Aurea paintings inspired Raphael and da Udine’s work at the Vatican.  Giovanni da Udine was a student and assistant of Raphael.

Giovanni da Udine in the Loggia di Raffaello, Vatican, 1517-19

Raphael at the Vatican Loggia, Vatican, 1518-19

Raphael and his students are also credited for much of the decorative painting at the Villa Farnesina in Rome.

Heraldic grotesque on interior shutter at Villa Farnesina, Rome, 1506–1510

Panel at window jamb at Villa Farnesina, Rome, 1506–1510

Grotesques have been used as outdoor decoration as well, such as at the casino at Villa Farnese in Caprarola, Italy.

Casino Loggia at Villa Farnese in Caprarola, Italy, 1584

And finally, here’s a link to Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo’s Book 6, Chapter 48 in his Treatise on Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, titled The Composition of Grotesques, written in 1585.