Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Grotesque Alphabet

Grotesque Alphabet 'A'

Ateone mutato in Cervo da Diana

Background: Actea Actaeon at right; Diana in the centre

Ateone mutato in Cervo da Diana
Atheonis transformed into a deer by Diana


Grotesque Alphabet 'B'

Penteo / Bacco Trionfante

Background: Bacchus carried by a procession

Penteo / Bacco Trionfante
Pentheus / The Triumph of Bacchus


Grotesque Alphabet 'C'

Cadmo mutato in Serpente con la moglie

Background: Cadmus being transformed into a serpent

Cadmo mutato in Serpente con la moglie
Cadmus is transformed into a serpent along with his wife


Grotesque Alphabet 'D'

Dedalo / Icaro

Background: Icarus is falling to earth

Dedalo / Icaro
Daedalus / Icarus

Grotesque Alphabet 'F'

Fetonte guisa il carro del sole

Background: A woman rides a chariot towards the sun
Phaeton, son of Helios, rides in his father's chariot

Fetonte guida il carro del sole
Phaeton drives the chariot of the Sun

Grotesque Alphabet 'H'

Hercole entrando nel'inferno Amazza Cerbero

Background: Hercules enters the inferno of Cerberus

Hercole entrando nel'inferno Amazza Cerbero
Hercules kills Cerberus at the entrance of Ades

Grotesque Alphabet 'L'

Licaone mutato in Lupo

Background: Licone [?] Lyacon* is transformed into a fox wolf

Licaone mutato in Lupo
Lycaon is transformed into a wolf


Grotesque Alphabet 'M'

Avaritia del Re Mida

Background: Scene depicting the greed of King Midas

Avaritia del Re Mida
The greed of King Midas


Grotesque Alphabet 'N'

Narcisso s'inamora de si stesso et dive ta un fiore

Background: Narcissus leans over a tomb set within a landscape

Narcisso s'inamora di se stesso et diventa un fiore
Narcissus falls in love with himself and turns into a flower


Grotesque Alphabet 'O'

Eccellenza d'Orfeo nel sonare et lametarsi

Background: Orpheus plays his lyre

Eccellenza d'Orfeo nel sonare et lametarsi
Orpheus’ great skill in playing and wailing
(lit., I think it’s what nowadays we’d call dramatic acting)


Grotesque Alphabet 'Q'

Quinto Curtio

Background: Marcus Curtius on horseback is about to leap into the chasm

Quinto Curtio
Quintus Curtius


Grotesque Alphabet 'R'

Rololo et Remo primi fondatori de Roma

Background: Romulus and Remus alongside a wolf

Romolo et Remo primi fondatori di Roma
Romulus and Remus, original founders of Rome


Grotesque Alphabet 'S'

Serena

Background: Serena swims in the sea



Grotesque Alphabet 'T'

Terseo unice il Minotauro et inganna Arianna

Background: Theseus and the minotaur's labyrinth

Teseo vince il Minotauro et inganna Arianna
Thesesu defeats the Minotaur and deceives Arianna


Grotesque Alphabet 'V'

Plutone / Venere et Cupido

Background: Venus and Cupid on a cliff; Pluto arrives in a chariot

Plutone / Venere et Cupido
Pluto / Venus and Cupid


Grotesque Alphabet 'Z'

Zarantani

Background: A city


This late 16th century suite of ornamental letters by Giacomo Paolini is known as 'Grotesque Alphabet in Mythological Landscapes'. The only thing I discovered about Paolini is that he was an Italian artist.

To discover which letters I've omitted and which letters were missing from the modern day alphabet, you will need to track them down at the source: the British Museum Prints Database (search on "Giacomo Paolini" in the 'free text' field)

The lazy link: Greek mythology.

**Update: Thanks to Giovanni for providing the translations above (in blue).

14 comments:

Galderich said...

Fantastic!

luomo said...

for the letter L, the figure depicted is lycaon, an ancient greek king, turning into a wolf. there's information about lycaon at pantheon.org/articles/l/lycaon.html.

peacay said...

Thanks luomo! There were a few archaic or latinate mythological names I fixed up from the BM entries. I couldn't work that one out. If I had actually *read* lupo instead of copy/pasting 'fox', I might have worked it out!

onionSoup said...

For the 'F', "Fetonte guida il carro del sole": it is not a woman riding TOWARDS the sun, it's Phaeton, son of Helios, riding his father's charriot.

Karla said...

A fine set of (mostly) metamorphoses. (Actaeon is the usual English form on the first one, I think.) I wonder why the hare is accompanying Narcissus...

OK, time to jump back into the car and drive merrily along with the unhappy lapine pair.

MW said...

Tremendous

peacay said...

Thanks onionSoup and Karla - fixed! (in life it's always the way; whenever you know you are being too slack, in this case too slack to bother with trying to correct semi-obvious mistakes in the British Museum commentary - or such similar circumstances - they always come back to bite/haunt or otherwise embarrass you)

Karla said...

It's not like Actea is incorrect, just not so recognizable to English-language readers. I wouldn't have guessed who he was without the image, in other words.

Giovanni said...

These are lovely. If you ever feel like fixing the transcriptions:

Fetonte guisa = Fetonte guida
et dive ta un fiore = et diventa un fiore
Terseo unice = Teseo vince
fondatori de Roma = fondatori di Roma
nel sonare et lametarsi = nel sonare et lamentarsi

(I'd be happy to provide the translation of each)

peacay said...

Thanks Giovanni. If you're up for it, translations would be great.

Giovanni said...

With pleasure:

Ateone mutato in Cervo da Diana
Atheonis transformed into a deer by Diana

Penteo / Bacco Trionfante
Pentheus / The Triumph of Bacchus

Cadmo mutato in Serpente con la moglie
Cadmus is transformed into a serpent along with his wife

Dedalo / Icaro
Daedalus / Icarus

Fetonte guida il carro del sole
Phaeton drives the chariot of the Sun

Hercole entrando nel'inferno Amazza Cerbero
Hercules kills Cerberus at the entrance of Ades

Licaone mutato in Lupo
Lycaon is transformed into a wolf

Avaritia del Re Mida
The greed of King Midas

Narcisso s'inamora di se stesso et diventa un fiore
Narcissus falls in love with himself and turns into a flower

Eccellenza d'Orfeo nel sonare et lametarsi
Orpheus’ great skill in playing and wailing (lit., I think it’s what nowadays we’d call dramatic acting)

Quinto Curtio
Quintus Curtius

Romolo et Remo primi fondatori di Roma
Romulus and Remus, original founders of Rome

Serena

Teseo vince il Minotauro et inganna Arianna
Thesesu defeats the Minotaur and deceives Arianna

Plutone / Venere et Cupido
Pluto / Venus and Cupid

Zarantani

peacay said...

Thanks very much. I've added them above.

elenegp said...

Es fantástico, gracias por el post.
Elena (Valencia, Spain)

arrumacos said...

I love your blog.

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