Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Design for a Wall Elevation with Grotesques

Anonymous, Italian, second half of the 16th century
Circle of Pellegrino Tibaldi (Italian, Puria di Valsolda 1527–1596 Milan) ?
ca. 1540–70
Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash; some stylus ruling; highlighted with white gouache; on blue paper
15 5/16 x 10 9/16 in. (38.9 x 26.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Dr. Rudolf P. Berliner
Accession Number:
Not on view
Painted wall and ceiling decorations were an important part of the Italian 16th century interior. With their vibrant colors, they often had a determining influence on the atmosphere of a room. This design shows a decoration for a niche between two pillars which is filled by a so-called candelabra grotesque with male and female satyrs on its offshoots. Grotesques became a popular motif for wall decorations during the last quarter of the 15th century. They were based on the murals found in the partly excavated Domus Aurea: Emperor Nero’s Golden House (ca. 64 AD). The underground chambers were soon visited by artists and described as ‘grotte’ (grottoes) which inspired the name ‘grottesche’. A characteristic quality of grotesques is a high level of license and fantasy, both in terms of their composition and in their subject matter. The theme of this wall decoration is particularly licentious and was most likely designed for the private quarters of a city palace.
Inscription: Annotated in pen and black ink at top center: "141".

In pencil on fragment of old mat, "To Dr. Berliner, with much friendship and good wishes. Janos Scholz."

On a separate piece of old mat, in a different hand, "Alunni Sel Coll. Lolsatini (Vi altri Disegni)" [?]

On mat: "G. Siccolante? Si tratta della stessa maestro del disegno del Met. Mus. n. 50.605.30 att. a segu. di P. del Vaga."
Rudolf Berliner; Donor: Rudolf Berliner
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Living in Style: Five Centuries of Interior Design from the Collection of Drawings and Prints," June 17, 2013–September 9, 2013.

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