Grotesque motif framed by ornamental letter "O"
Auricular Style ABC, c. 1645-50
Design by Johann Christian Bierpfaff
Libellus Novus Elementorum Latinorum Cum AEneis picturis usui Aurifabrorum inservientib
Engraving by Jeremias Falck
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

• Lucas Kilian
Newes Gradesca Büchlein
Suite of ornamental grotesque prints
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Lucas Kilian
Ornamental Grotesque
Engraving "1" from Newes Gradesca Büchlin
Augsburg, Germany, 1607

Lucas Kilian. German engraver from Augsburg, 1579–1637
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Misteraitch, Tales of the Arabesque, Giornale Nuovo, 6.6.2007
Peacay, Kilian Grotesque Ornament, BibliOdyssey, 22.10.2012
___. NGB Album

Auricular style [Dut. Kwabornament; Ger. Knorpelwerk, Ohrmuschelstil]. Term used to describe a type of ornament popular in the 17th century, characterized by smooth, curved and rippling forms resembling the human ear. This highly plastic style evolved during the first two decades of the 17th century in Utrecht, and in its fully developed form is found only in metalwork. The style in this medium is characterized by the use of amorphous, lobate scrolls and embossed, relief ornament that emphasize the malleable nature of the metal. At its most extreme, it exaggerates this quality by suggesting that objects were modelled in a semi-molten state. The goldsmiths Adam van Vianen and Paulus van Vianen of Utrecht are credited with the invention of the style, although its origins seem to lie in the graphic designs of such 16th-century Italian Mannerist artists as Giulio Romano (?1499-1546) (e.g. Drawing for a fish-shaped ewer; Oxford, Christ Church) and Enea Vico. The latter's designs for plate were published in the mid-16th century and may have been known in Utrecht (W.K. Zülch, Enstehung des Ohrmuschelstils, Heidelberg, 1932; The Concise Grove Dictionary of Art, Oxford UP, 2002; The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts, ed. Gordon Campbell, Oxford UP, 2006, Vol. 1, pp. 57-58; Oxford Grove Art).

The auricular style, German Knorpelwerk or Ohrmuschelstil, Dutch kwabornament, was a 17th-century ornamental style based on parts of the human anatomy. It was invented in the early 17th century by Dutch silversmiths and brothers Paulus and Adam van Vianen. Paulus was inspired by anatomy lectures he attended in Prague, and both he and Adam became known for the style. The auricular style was adopted by other cabinetmakers and carvers in the Low Countries and Germany.
Applied to chair backs, frames, cupboards, and other surfaces, the gruesome, curving motifs consisting of bones, membranes, and cartilage were arranged in arabesques, particularly in forms that suggested the human ear, after which the style is named. The flabby, fleshy forms were sometimes contorted into masks, as shown in the Neues Zieratenbuch (New Ornamentation Book) of the Mannerist designer Friedrich Unteutsch of Frankfurt am Main (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Oleaginous style. C17. Precursor of Rococo, called Auricular, Cartilaginous, Dutch Grotesque, Kwabornament (Lobed Ornament), or Lobate style, a branch of Mannerism. It consisted of smooth flowing lines, folding in on each other, like human ears, intestines or marine plants. It was invented in The Netherlands, was disseminated in a series of illustrated books, e.g. Veelderhande Nieuwe Compartemente (Many Kinds of New Ornamental Parts--1653), a set of engravings after Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621-1674), and Cartouches des différents inventions (Cartouches of Different Designs--c. 1620-30), by Daniel Rabel (c. 1578-1637). Its chief protagonists were Paul (c. 1570-1613), Adam (1569-1627), and Christianen (1600-67) van Vianen, and Jan Lutma the Elder (1584-1669) and Younger (1624-85 or 89) (James Stevens Curl, A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Oxford UP, 2006, pp. 535-36).

Kwabornament. Een hoogtepunt in de hamer- en drijfkunst vormde de kwabornamentiek. Deze siervorm was hoofdzakelijk geïnspireerd op de fysionomie van zeedieren bestaande uit het vermeende kraakbenen skelt met daaromheen kwabben. Het kwabornament ontwikkelde zich in de maniëristische periode van de renaissance, tegen het einde van de 16de eeuw in de Nederlanden. In de daaropvolgende barokstijl werd het in ruime mate toegepast bij allerlei vormen van decoratieve kunst, met name in zilver. De beroemdste meester van het kwabornament was Paulus van Vianen, die vrijwel werd geëvenaard door Johannes Lutma sr. en jr. en Thomas Boogaert (Elseviers groot antiekboek, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1978; Frans L.M. Dony, Handboek antiek, Baarn: Tirion, 1988; Antiek Encyclopedie).

Kwab-Ornament, alte Bezeichnung für Ohrmuschelstil. Wenzel Jamnitzer u. die Nürnberger Goldschmiedekunst 1500-1700, Kat., München 1985, S. 512 (Das grosse Kunstlexikon von P.W. Hartmann).

Ohrmuschelstil, Ornamentform des Barock, die von ca. 1620-1660 vor allem in Deutschland und den Niederlanden gebräuchlich war. Der aus dem Knorpel-, Beschlag- und Rollwerk hervorgegangene Ohrmuschelstil setzt sich aus symmetrischen, wulstig geschwungenen Formen und ohrmuschelartig auslaufenden Voluten zusammen. Die englische Bezeichnung ist Auricular style, von lateinisch auricula, "Ohrmuschel".
W. K. ZÜLCH, Die Entstehung des Ohrmuschelstil, Heidelberg 1932; A. M. v. GRAEVENITZ, Das niederländ. Ohrmuschelornament. Phänomen und Entwicklung, dargestellt an den Werken und Entwürfen der Goldschmiedefamilien van Vianen und Lutma, Diss. München 1972, Bamberg 1973 (Das grosse Kunstlexikon von P.W. Hartmann).

With its cartilaginous undulations and weird orifices, the style of ornament known as "auricular" has been associated both with the grotesque tradition in print and with the advancement of anatomical knowledge in the seventeenth century. This paper investigates the long-posited though rarely substantiated claim that auricular ornament was inspired in part by anatomical dissections performed in seventeenth-century Holland. Discussing auricular objects (furniture, silver, and prints) in relationship to anatomical works (paintings of anatomies, fleshy still lifes, and illustrations to surgical texts), I more precisely articulate the nature of these strange correspondences between body and ornament. Are auricular, Ohrmuschelstil, and kwabornament merely formal terms modern scholars have applied to the style called in its day "pranks and maggots"? Or do they instead capture something of the style's origins, intuiting its significance for the seventeenth century? (Allison Stielau, "Pranks and Maggots: The Anatomy of Auricular Ornament", Paper presented at the annual meeting of the RSA Annual Meeting, Hilton Montreal Bonaventure Hotel, Montreal, Quebec Canada, 10.1.2014; Allacademic).

• Michiel Mosijn | Michel Mosyn of Amsterdam
Designs in auricular style
c. 1620
Engraving by C. Dankers
Désiré Guilmard, Les maîtres ornemanistes, 1880-1

Michel Mosyn
Designs in auricular style
Holland, c. 1620

Michel Mosyn, sculptor and engraver from Amsterdam, active c. 1620-80
• Also known as: Mosyn, Michiel; Mosijn, Michiel; Moseijn, Michiel; Mousyn, Michiel; Mozijn, Michiel; Mouzyn, Michiel; Mosin, Michel; Mouzijn, Michiel.
• Rendered as a set of engravings, many of his designs were published as Veerlerhande Niewe Compartemente, Amsterdam, 1640-1655. The work also involves Gebrand van Eeckhout (engraver) and Clement de Jonge (publisher).
• Rijksmuseum: Kwabornament
• V&A: 1, 2, 3, 4
• Imaginarium: Auricular Style

Jeremias Falck, German engraver from Gdansk, 1609-1677
Rise of the Living Type, BibliOdyssey, 10.5.2012

Additional Resources
Rijksstudio Akermariano
Auricular Style, Kwabornament, V&A, Rijksmuseum, Museumnetwork, Old Book Illustrations, BibliOdyssey, Framing Charles II, Victorian jug, DeVille.
The Grotesque Times
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