Square Blackwork Design in Silhouette Style with Schweifwerk and Grotesque Figures

Artist: Esaias von Hulsen (Dutch, Middelburg ca. 1570–before 1626 Stuttgart)

Date: 1617

Medium: Blackwork

Dimensions: Plate: 4 7/16 x 4 3/8 in. (11.2 x 11.1 cm)

Classifications: Prints, Ornament & Architecture

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1933

Accession Number: 32.123.11


This sheet is part of a series of square grotesque designs by the goldsmith Esaias von Hulsen. The patterns he designed for this series are very complex compilations of animals, human figures and various different objects placed in a network of thin strips characterized by many C-Volutes, also known as Schweifwerk. Decorations such as these go back to Roman mural decorations, the most famous of which were to be found in the Domus Aurea in Rome. Renaissance and Baroque artists developed these grotesques further and came up with many ‘modern’ manifestations. Von Hulsen’s prints are remarkable because he is one of the first to break the Renaissance tradition of creating symmetrical designs.