Sunday, March 13, 2011

Grotesque Mask Heads

organic abstract mask engraving

organic abstract mask illustration 1555 f

organic abstract mask engraving

mask drawing

bizarre mask picture

organic abstract mask engraving

organic abstract mask engraving

organic abstract mask engraving - masque grotesque

grotesken Maske 16th c

engraving zoological mask

abstract mask engraving

These most fabulous grotesque masks come from a suite of about twenty-two prints designed by Cornelis Floris, engraved by Frans Huys and published in Antwerp in 1555 by Hans Liefrinck.

The late Baroque / early Mannerist designs incorporate an abstracted zoological motif, in most cases relating to the ocean, within an auricular ornamental style.

Auricular describes the smooth, curved, rippling and pliable shapes that resemble a human ear. The prints here are very early examples of this type of ornament which was developed by goldsmiths attempting to demonstrate organic forms extruding from the surface. The style probably influenced the later Rococo and Art Nouveau movements. {see: 1, 2, 3}

The print collection is called 'Pourtraicture ingenieuse de plusieurs façon de Masques. Fort utile aulx painctres, orseures, Taillieurs de pierres, voirriers et Taillieurs d'images'. It's either old or mangled French, essentially meaning: 'Ingenious portrayal of several types of mask. Useful for painters, stoneworkers [and other trades]'.

Incomplete sets of the suite are available from Rijksmuseum and MAK Vienna (via the Ornamental Prints Online portal). Just look up one of the artist/printer names. {The images in this post are from Rijksmuseum}.

Although MrH's sadly missed Giornale Nuovo is now offline, illustrated copies of the posts can thankfully be accessed via the Internet Archive. Faces of the Grotesque is well worth seeing.

'Ornament and the Grotesque: Fantastical Decoration from Antiquity to Art Nouveau' by Alessandra Zamperini, 2008.

Previously related: Hairy Grotesques; The Architecture of Fantasy I, The Architecture of Fantasy II; The Architecture of Embellishment; Architectural Zoology; Blackwork prints; Grotesque Alphabet; Sword Hilt Designs; Ornamental Decoration in 17th Century France; The Genre of the Monstrous; Fantastic Headresses [& no doubt more]

Thanks very much Will C!


Anonymous said...

Not just grotesque, but funny and enchanting. I tell you, kids these days are short-changed with their Halloween Scream masks.

Belle said...

Interesting masks. Some reminded me of science fiction aliens. Most of them look very grumpy.

Jayne said...

These are fab!!

Elena said...

Wonderful! Thank you very much

Will, said...

I tried to guess the dates for these before reading your text (a game I often play). I was only a few centuries off this time.

Ralf Wokan said...

Let us remember that a "person" is "somebody" behind a mask, whos voice does "per sonare" (sounds through) the mask... ;-)

Michelle Broder Van Dyke said...

Amazing masks!

KeironLeVine said...


daWackest1 said...

grotesque? hardly! rather...fantastique :)

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