Volltext: A history of caricature and grotesque in literature and art

af Caricature 
render his grimace {till more ridiculous. The number and variety of 
fuch grotefque faces, which we find fcattered over the architectural 
decoration of our old ecclefiaftical buildings, are fo great that I will not 
attempt to give any more particular claflihcation of them. All this 
church decoration was calculated efpecially to produce its etteet upon the 
middle and lower clailes, and mediaeval art was, perhaps more than any- 
thing elfe, fuited to mediaeval fociety, for it belonged to the mafs and not 
to the individual. The man who could enjoy a match at grinning 
through horfe-collars, muft have been charmed by the grotefque works of 
the mediaeval {tone fculptor and wood carver; and we may add that theie 
difplay, though often rather rude, a very high degree of ikill in art, a 
great power of producing {triking imagery. 
Thefe mediaeval artifls loved alfo to produce horrible objeels as well as 
laughable ones, though even in their horrors they were continually 
running into the grotefque. Among the adjunets to thefe fculptnred 
figures, we fometimes meet with inftruments of pain, and very talented 
attempts to exhibit this on the features of the vietims. The creed of the 
middle ages gave great fcope for the indulgence of this tatte in the 
infinitely varied terrors of purgatory and hell 5 and, not to fpeak of 
the more crude defcriptions that are to common in mediaeval popular 
literature, the account to which thefe defcriptions might be turned by the 
poet as well as the artilt are well known to the reader of Dante. Coils 
of ferpents and dragons, which were the moit ufual inttruments in the 
tortures of the infernal regions, were always favourite objeets in mediaeval 
ornamentation, whether fculptured or drawn, in the details of architeetural 
decoration, or in the initial letters and margins of books. They are often 
combined in forming gr-otefque tracery with the bodies of animals or of 
human beings, and their movements are generally hoftile to the latter. 
We have already feen, in previous chapters, examples of this ufe of 
ferpents and dragons, dating from the earlieit periods of mediaeval art; 
and it is perhaps the molt common Ilyle of ornamentation 1n the 
buildings and illuminated manufcripts in our iiland from the earlier 
Saxon times to the thirteenth century. This ornamentation is fometinies 
ttrikingly bold and effeetive. In the cathedral of Wells there is a ieries 


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