Three Renaissance Grotesques: Holbein, Dürer, Massys

  • Region: All Regions
  • Type: Talk
  • Cost: Free

A Public Lecture by Professor Alexander Marr (University of Cambridge)

Magdalen College, University of Oxford

27 September 2023, 5pm

Location: Grove Auditorium (entry via Longwall Street)

The Renaissance grotesque is normally thought of as an ornamental art of the margins: fantastical rather than natural, supplementary instead of central. But what if we were to approach a core subject in the rise of naturalism, the Northern Renaissance portrait, on grotesque terms? This lecture will re-assess three well-known portraits—Hans Holbein the Younger’s Derich Born, Albrecht Dürer’s St Jerome in his Study, and Quinten Massys’s so-called Ugly Duchess—in relation to some key topoi of the grotesque: hybridity, monstrosity, play, and the excesses of fecund imagination. It will suggest that the enterprise of portraiture is(and was) better understood as a facetious game than a mimetic triumph.

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