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A Grotesque Glass-Blower?
During a recent visit to the wonderfully refurbished Musée de Cluny (the musée national du Moyen Âge) in Paris, Dr Joseph Spooner noticed the intriguing creature pictured here (Fig. 1). He is tucked away in the corner of a panel of quarries and fragments attributed to Normandy, dated to the fourteenth century. For an image of the whole panel see: http://www.mesvitrauxfavoris.fr/Supp_c/musee_cluny_paris.htm (‘Grisaille avec ange et grotesque’).
Could this be an image of a grotesque glass-blower? Joseph observes that the hybrid’s paw grasping a bell-shaped jar that lies on its side, can be seen through the vessel, indicating that it is made of glass rather than ceramic. A straight ‘rod’ connects the creature’s mouth to the neck of the vessel, and his mouth is open as if to exhale, suggesting that he is blowing air into it. The shape of the vessel is also comparable to that of the urine flask seen in various images ‘grotesque doctors’ in both stained glass and in manuscripts. However, in these scenes, the glass flasks are usually shown raised up for the contents to be examined against the light, or to be sniffed (e.g. in York Minster, nXXV, 1a, Fig. 2). Joseph would welcome the views of fellow Vidimus readers.
Museum Website: https://www.musee-moyenage.fr/en/