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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 short comical sketch from the 17th 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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92 news items

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:21:29 -0700

With some handsome sets and Wilde's drolleries perfectly projected, this is a peachy Earnest. Who can tire of a play with such lines as 'the general was essentially a man of peace, except in his domestic life'? Many will wish to see the show chiefly ...

Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription) (blog)

Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription) (blog)
Tue, 30 Jun 2015 21:07:30 -0700

They also used inhabited and historiated initials, which could be decorative or actually partake of the subject; and drolleries, thumbnail images in the margins. These illustrative elements seem closer to the sense of the emoji. And since there weren't ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Mon, 15 Jun 2015 17:12:21 -0700

Salted drolleries are not her forte. Her repertoire relies on cliche and manufactured reasonableness, all couched in the sort of language used by wide-eyed professional educationalists. Leader-writing colleagues have nicknamed Mrs Morgan Miss U-Turn.
The Guardian
Sun, 07 Jun 2015 00:00:35 -0700

Writer/director Alex Ross Perry's self-consciously wordy third feature (after Impolex and The Color Wheel) is overburdened with such drolleries, so it's a relief when the narrative abandons its verbose antiheroes and turns instead to Moss's silently ...

The Independent

The Independent
Fri, 19 Jun 2015 09:02:48 -0700

Both men also achieved high repute, as you know, for their exquisite drolleries. “I may be drunk,” Winston famously told a reproving Bessie Braddock, “but you are ugly – and I shall be sober in the morning.” “Why don't you fuck off and die,” said Boris ...


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 ...
Alton Telegraph
Fri, 17 Apr 2015 07:15:00 -0700

Print work “Big Fish Eat Little Fish” on view in the Saint Louis Art Museum's exhibit “Beyond Bosch: The Afterlife of a Renaissance Master in Print.” Print details, Pieter van der Heyden (b. Antwerp, c. 1530–d. after March 1572, Berchem) after Pieter ...

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 ...

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