'He's no oil painting,' people say: but what I want to know is, why an oil painting, particularly?
Is an oil painting:
(that's by Agnolo Bronzino)
more flattering than a water-colour:
(that's by John Smart)
or a fresco:
(that's by Domenichino)
(that's Yelena Oliv by Valentin Serov)
I mean, look at that oil-painting's scowl, and that conk.
Despite the scowl and the conk (poor man - I wonder what he looked like when he wasn't paying to have an artist flatter him) Lorenzo the Magnificent wasn't actually grotesque.
This is grotesque:
That's a bit of Chinese funerary art. The photograph is by Peter Griffin.
These are grotesques, too:
that's Grossmünster Church, Zurich, photo by Gleen Johnson.
Yes, a grotesque is a figure that's been distorted to make it look, well, grotesque.
The word grotesque isn't anythng to do with churches or tombs, though.
The Old Italian [pittura] grotesca comes from grotta, which means cave. So something grotesque is really to be found in caves.
That's from the caves at Mogao.
And that's really grotesque.
Thing Not To Do Today: be grotesque. This is easy. Don't grow any of your features to triple their usual size, and keep out of caves.
Grotta is from the Late Latin crypta, which means vault.