The Zoomorphic Mask

Detail of sketch of four masks, figure 34.
Nicholas Penny
62 pages
54 figures
9 x 6 inches
Cover type: 

Drawings and prints of grotesque ornament both reflected the work of painters and sculptors and stimulated them, encouraging the transfer of ideas from one medium to another. In this publication, Nicholas Penny explores a history of such ornament, especially with regard to masks, looking at some of the most celebrated works of art in New York - the Morgan’s Farnes Hours and the splendid portrait by Bronzino at the Metropolitan Museum of Art - but connecting them with little-known drawings and prints, and also with some of Manhattan’s early twentieth-century architecture. Similarly, he turns here to Michelangelo but discusses some of the least-studied aspects of that great master’s art: the ornaments that are overlooked by many scholars partly because they are not necessarily carved by him and partly because they are not quite what is studied under the heading of architecture. As Penny makes clear, however, drawing remained the medium in which these ideas from ancient art were studied, and also the means by which masks and other ornaments could be redesigned and carried forward into new painting, sculpture, and architecture, from the Renaissance to the present.