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The grotesque decoration

One of the most admirable and characterizing features of the del Perugino Book of Hours is the grotesque decoration that adorns several of the pages like a frame.
What is grotesque decoration? It’s a pictorial style that was very popular from the 16th century onwards and is made up of slender, whimsical figures that blend into geometric and naturalistic patterns on a background that was generally white or some other single colour. The figures were extremely colourful and formed borders, geometric effects, interlacements and so forth, but were always rather light and airy since the figures were generally minute, represented in an almost calligraphic way in the background.


The name was derived from the “Grottoes” of the Esquiline Hills in Rome, i.e. the underground remains of Nero’s Domus Aurea, discovered in 1480 and immediately popular with the artists of that time, who often had themselves lowered inside so that they could study the fanciful paintings there.
Famous painters like Filippino Lippi, Pinturicchio, Amico Aspertini and Sodoma were amongst the first to take advantage of these ancient adornments but with a certain carelessness that betrayed a desire to exploit the prestige of an ancient style. It was Raffaello Sanzio’s team that brought about a true reform in this sort of art, thus increasing the number of requests from the patrons and inevitably turning the whole thing into a monotonous practice.
The meaning of the word grotesque subsequently changed in various Neo-Latin languages, until it signified something bizarre and unusual, finally assuming a connotation of “ridiculous” and ludicrous.



Decorazione a grottesche
Decorazione a grottesche

Decorazione a grottesche
Decorazione a grottesche

La pagina del Perugino
La pagina del Perugino

L'artista più illustre impegnato nella decorazione del libro d'Ore del Perugino è senza dubbio il Perugino.

la legatura
La legatura

La legatura del libro d'Ore del Perugino è un lavoro coevo di estrema complessità.

La vicenda del codice
Le vicende del codice

Dopo essere appartenuto agli inizi del XVI secolo alla famiglia bolognese del Perugino.