The New International Encyclopædia/Grotesque
GROTESQUE (Fr., from It. grottesco, grotesque, from grottesca, style of painting found in ancient crypts, from grotta, cavern, from ML. grupta, crupta, from Lat. crypta, crypt) . A style of classical ornament, so called in the thirteenth century from its having been rediscovered in the excavations made in the baths of Titus and other ancient Roman buildings. This light, fantastic style was much in favor during the Renaissance. It abounds in all kinds of transformations, from the animal to the vegetable, and mingles all the natural kingdoms in the most fanciful and picturesque confusion. The name grotesque thus came by degrees to mean a fanciful combination of natural ideas as applied to ornament.