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grotesque Quick reference
(French, from the Italian grottesco)
A term used to describe a type of European ornament composed of small, loosely connected motifs including scrollwork, architectural elements, whimsical human figures, and fantastic beasts, often organized vertically round a central axis. The original inspiration for such ornament was provided by the archaeological excavations undertaken at the end of the 15th century of the ancient Roman interiors of the Domus Aurea of Nero and of other villas in Rome and Naples. These revealed a hitherto unknown side of Roman art in the playful decorations found in the underground rooms (...