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 ('ear-like') 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.
Sunday, March 27, 2011