Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hairy Grotesques

Tête de singe souriant

Tête de singe souriant
[Smiling monkey's head]



Tête d'un satyre souriant
Tête d'un satyre souriant
[Smiling satyr's head]



Tête chevelue et barbue d'un vieillard souriant
Tête chevelue et barbue d'un vieillard souriant
[Shaggy, bearded head of a smiling old man]



Tête de singe à la moustache enrubannée
Tête de singe à la moustache enrubannée
[Monkey's head with ribboned moustache]



Tête d'un satyre aux sourcils levés
Tête d'un satyre aux sourcils levés
[Satyr's head with raised eyebrows]



Tête de faune aux rubans
Tête de faune aux rubans
Ribboned head of faunus*
(or maybe it's just 'creature')



Tête d'un satyre aux cornes nouées
Tête d'un satyre aux cornes nouées
[Satyr's head with tied horns]



Masque feuillagé d'homme grimaçant
Masque feuillagé d'homme grimaçant
[grimacing masked man with foliage]



Tête de satyre à la guirlande
Tête de satyre à la guirlande
[Satyr with head garland]


(click through for enlarged versions; some of the library stamps have been removed or attenuated)


This striking set of hirsute heads was produced in the second half of the 17th century by a French engraver named François Chauveau. It's as though he has travelled forward in time to select elements from Chewbacca / Planet of the Apes & Star Trek (Worf) to combine with the motif popularised during the Renaissance, the grotesque. So there's a certain charming naivety and abstraction to the works suggesting they may be early versions for a later, more sophisticated, suite of prints perhaps. We don't know the designer so it's hard to say.

Chauveau was a renowned engraver with royal pension and favour among his peers. A selection of more than a hundred and fifty of his prints, covering a wide variety of themes, is available from the Joconde portal, on behalf of a number of contributing French institutions.


Previously (that I can remember offhand) -

3 comments :

Sarah Coggrave said...

Ooh these are really interesting. I love them!

Tina Hoggatt said...

I've been out with guys like this. just kidding. I am so sorry the artist's name was not Cheveaux - but then that would be asking too much. These characters are very reminiscent of The Green Man, a creature of nature, the dark wood and spirit. Cheers, biblio.

Lango Aurelian said...

Baroque era Diane Arbus !!!

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