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The purpose and meaning behind Grotesques in Medieval Europe (5th-15th Century)

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Illuminated manuscripts from medieval Europe are teeming with grotesque illustrations. Also known as drollery, this style of painting combines humans, animals, foliage and inanimate objects to create bizarre hybrids of characters, environments and everything in between. Some other hallmarks of grotesque artwork in medieval books is that they are usually small-scale, highly decorative, and populate the margins surrounding a body of text. The meaning and purpose behind the bizarre imagery found in grotesques is my primary research question for this project. Sometimes these illustrations had a connection to the thematic or allegorical elements of the text they accompanied, but other times they were simply doodles perhaps with no intended meaning at all.