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Page from a 14th-century Psalter, showing a drollery on the right margin.
Drollery detail from The Rylands Haggadah
For the type of humor, see Droll humor. For the short comical sketch from the 17-th century, see Droll.

Drolleries (or drollery), often called a grotesque, are decorative thumbnail images in the margins of Illuminated manuscripts, most popular from about 1250 through the 15th century, though found earlier and later. The most common types of drollery images appear as mixed creatures, either between different animals, or between animals and human beings, or even between animals and plants or inorganic things. Examples include cocks with human heads, dogs carrying human masks, archers winding out of a fish’s mouth, bird-like dragons with an elephant’s head on the back. Often they have a thematic connection with the subject of the text of the page, and larger miniatures, and they usually form part of a wider scheme of decorated margins, though some are effectively doodles added later.

One manuscript, The Croy Hours, has so many it has become known as The Book of Drolleries.

Another manuscript that contains many drolleries is the Luttrell Psalter, which has hybrid creatures and other monsters on a great deal of the pages.


  • Michelle P. Brown (1994), Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms, ISBN 0-89236-217-0

Media related to Drolleries at Wikimedia Commons

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drolleries — Please support Wikipedia.
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86 news items


Tue, 17 Mar 2015 13:17:16 -0700

But they speak the same elliptical, illogical and absurdly funny language, and their exchanges of non-sequiturs sound more like mating calls than the intellectual drolleries she shares with Jonathan. But what this feeble love triangle has to do with ...

The Times of Israel

The Times of Israel
Sat, 21 Mar 2015 18:24:49 -0700

It was naturalistic, showing emotions in faces and gestures, leaves cascading along the borders of the page, sketches in the margins and grotesques (now called drolleries). The haggadahs on show in Barcelona were collaborative projects between Jewish ...

Birmingham Post

Birmingham Post
Fri, 20 Mar 2015 03:50:01 -0700

Add to this a Mongolian contortionist who can shoot an arrow from a bow with her feet, a pair who crack the stage with whiplash effect as they swing the Argentinian bolas and the drolleries of Tweedy the clown and you have an evening which really is ...
Montreal Gazette
Thu, 19 Mar 2015 03:41:15 -0700

Counterbalancing such grandly visionary works were abstract exercises like Analogy and Anagram, written for the French conductor Pierre Monteux, and drolleries like Critic's Corner, a set of variations possibly based on individuals. Where are these ...

Washington Post (blog)

Washington Post (blog)
Wed, 18 Feb 2015 07:24:41 -0800

“As a carefully constructed miniaturized universe, 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' is that most Andersonian of endeavors, evincing the deadpan drolleries, screwball action and dollhouse aesthetic that have alternately charmed and chagrined filmgoers for the ...

The Diplomat

The Diplomat
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 12:50:39 -0800

While a great deal of attention is being paid to the effects of increasing multiculturalism in South Korea and Japan, a close neighbor has been overlooked as a society also in the midst of this phenomenon: Taiwan. As Taiwan has liberalized and opened ...
Rhode Island Public Radio
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:43:22 -0700

Beneath his florid, sometimes rambling drolleries, a reader found grand nuggets of wisdom. ``He was interested in just about everything,'' said Jean Plunkett, one of his former editors at the ProJo. ``He treated the janitor the same way he treated the ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 01:30:13 -0800

After setting out the terms of an interesting argument, the book becomes a series of magazine-style travelogues, all of them immensely enjoyable, though magazine-style travelogues nonetheless. There are dozens of drolleries and amusing asides – Engel ...

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