Ornament Print from a series: 'Grottesco in diversche manieren'

Accession Number

Ornament Print from a series: 'Grottesco in diversche manieren'

Hans Vries

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
engraving on paper

6 3/16 in x 8 3/10 in (15.72 cm x 21.11 cm);6 3/16 in x 8 3/10 in (15.72 cm x 21.11 cm);14 in x 19 1/16 in (35.56 cm x 48.42 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Gallery Rotation Spring/Summer 2012
Hans Vredeman
de Vries
Netherlands, 1527–circa 1606
Ornament print, from Grottesco in diversche manieren
Museum purchase, 1960/1.118
In addition to being a visual artist, Vries was a designer, architect, engineer, and inventor. His interest in designs for interiors and architectural elements led him to publish a series of books on ornamental illustration, one of which was Grottesco in diversche manieren. This print shows Vries’s skill and attention to detail, but also his command over the style of decorative ornamentation known as grotesque.
A French term derived from the Italian grottesco, grotesque describes a type of European ornament comprised of intricate motifs combining scrollwork, architectural elements, and a mixture of fanciful human figures and fantastical, mythological creatures; it is encountered most often in the decorative and graphic arts. The word originated as a descriptive term for the mural decorations inspired by the Ancient Roman wall paintings unearthed at the Domus Aurea (Golden Palace of Nero) around 1500. Because the site was beneath street level when it was rediscovered, it was believed the rooms were built as caves or grottos, a misunderstanding that not only led to the naming of the style but also to its association with the primitive, the pagan, and the natural.

Subject matter
Such elaborate decorative works filled with fantastical motifs were inspired by the discovery around 1500 in Rome of Nero's Domus Aurea (Golden Palace), the interior of which was filled with similar elaborate wall paintings.

Physical Description
Within an elaborate decorative framework consisting of griffins, birds, dogs, and fantastic half man-half beast creatures is a central panel with the image of a nude woman standing on a column holding a victor's wreath in either hand. Approaching for either side is a man in a quadriga holding a banner; each also holds a line that extends up to the wreath in the woman's hand.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
intaglio print

Collection Area

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copper engraving (printing process)
horses (equipment)
intaglio printing
literary theory

1 Related Resource

(Part of 5 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ AMH, 1st floor ➜ 102 (Richard and Rosann Noel Gallery)