medieval grotesque
medieval grotesque
medieval grotesque

64. Grotesque

Medieval or later

A small terracotta grotesque with mouth aperture and mounting hole. They were used to ward off evil spirits, guarding the buildings they occupied and protecting those inside.

Grotesques were in the form of a carved or moulded head or figure of a human, demon, animal or mythical creature, often with an exaggerated fierce or humorous expression. They were also used as an ornamental feature in church decoration. The term is sometimes confused with gargoyle, which is a special type of carved beast used to decorate a drainpipe.

Condition: Very good.

Dimensions: 38mm x 35mm.

Provenance: Ex. UK auction house.



Grotesques were originally buried Roman ornamental decorations that were discovered during the Renaissance in subterranean ruins known as grotte, hence grotesques. We now associate the term with unnatural, ugly or distorted forms, which can have the power to shock or scare those that cast their eyes over them.

Both grotesques and gargoyles have been attributed with the power to ward off evil spirits, guarding the buildings they occupy and protecting those inside.

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