Grotesque Alphabet

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Grotesque Alphabet

Grotesque Alphabet 'A'

Ateone mutato in Cervo da Diana

Background: Actea Actaeon at right; Diana in the centre

Ateone mutato in Cervo da Diana
Atheonis transformed into a deer by Diana

Grotesque Alphabet 'B'

Penteo / Bacco Trionfante

Background: Bacchus carried by a procession

Penteo / Bacco Trionfante
Pentheus / The Triumph of Bacchus

Grotesque Alphabet 'C'

Cadmo mutato in Serpente con la moglie

Background: Cadmus being transformed into a serpent

Cadmo mutato in Serpente con la moglie
Cadmus is transformed into a serpent along with his wife

Grotesque Alphabet 'D'

Dedalo / Icaro

Background: Icarus is falling to earth

Dedalo / Icaro
Daedalus / Icarus

Grotesque Alphabet 'F'

Fetonte guisa il carro del sole

Background: A woman rides a chariot towards the sun
Phaeton, son of Helios, rides in his father's chariot

Fetonte guida il carro del sole
Phaeton drives the chariot of the Sun

Grotesque Alphabet 'H'

Hercole entrando nel'inferno Amazza Cerbero

Background: Hercules enters the inferno of Cerberus

Hercole entrando nel'inferno Amazza Cerbero
Hercules kills Cerberus at the entrance of Ades

Grotesque Alphabet 'L'

Licaone mutato in Lupo

Background: Licone [?] Lyacon* is transformed into a fox wolf

Licaone mutato in Lupo
Lycaon is transformed into a wolf

Grotesque Alphabet 'M'

Avaritia del Re Mida

Background: Scene depicting the greed of King Midas

Avaritia del Re Mida
The greed of King Midas

Grotesque Alphabet 'N'

Narcisso s'inamora de si stesso et dive ta un fiore

Background: Narcissus leans over a tomb set within a landscape

Narcisso s'inamora di se stesso et diventa un fiore
Narcissus falls in love with himself and turns into a flower

Grotesque Alphabet 'O'

Eccellenza d'Orfeo nel sonare et lametarsi

Background: Orpheus plays his lyre

Eccellenza d'Orfeo nel sonare et lametarsi
Orpheus’ great skill in playing and wailing
(lit., I think it’s what nowadays we’d call dramatic acting)

Grotesque Alphabet 'Q'

Quinto Curtio

Background: Marcus Curtius on horseback is about to leap into the chasm

Quinto Curtio
Quintus Curtius

Grotesque Alphabet 'R'

Rololo et Remo primi fondatori de Roma

Background: Romulus and Remus alongside a wolf

Romolo et Remo primi fondatori di Roma
Romulus and Remus, original founders of Rome

Grotesque Alphabet 'S'


Background: Serena swims in the sea

Grotesque Alphabet 'T'

Terseo unice il Minotauro et inganna Arianna

Background: Theseus and the minotaur's labyrinth

Teseo vince il Minotauro et inganna Arianna
Thesesu defeats the Minotaur and deceives Arianna

Grotesque Alphabet 'V'

Plutone / Venere et Cupido

Background: Venus and Cupid on a cliff; Pluto arrives in a chariot

Plutone / Venere et Cupido
Pluto / Venus and Cupid

Grotesque Alphabet 'Z'


Background: A city

This late 16th century suite of ornamental letters by Giacomo Paolini is known as 'Grotesque Alphabet in Mythological Landscapes'. The only thing I discovered about Paolini is that he was an Italian artist.

To discover which letters I've omitted and which letters were missing from the modern day alphabet, you will need to track them down at the source: the British Museum Prints Database (search on "Giacomo Paolini" in the 'free text' field)

The lazy link: Greek mythology.

**Update: Thanks to Giovanni for providing the translations above (in blue).

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