Design for a Frieze of Grapevines

Virgil Solis1537

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

Virgil Solis organized this design for lush, interlaced foliage symmetrically, dividing it with a central urn from which sprout curling grapevines. Four large, drooping flowers and two tiny masks, whose wavy hair and beards echo the scrolling vines, hang from the ends of several of the vines. In antiquity, leafy designs such as this one, known as rinceaux, were popular motifs for ornamenting a variety of forms from furniture to architecture. Such motifs copied from ancient Greek and Roman art fascinated designers in the 1500s.

Although both sides of the drawing have been cut off, leaving only the edge of an urn on the right, Solis probably intended to show the beginning of the same repeating pattern. Other artists and craftsmen could then have copied this continuous decorative frieze to ornament a panel on a variety of objects. The horizontal incised lines above and below the design could have been used to transfer the image onto another surface.

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  • Title: Design for a Frieze of Grapevines
  • Creator: Virgil Solis
  • Date: 1537
  • Location Created: Germany
  • Physical Dimensions: 10.6 x 32.4 cm (4 3/16 x 12 3/4 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Pen and black ink, horizontal stylus indentation lines above and below the length of the design
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Signature: At bottom, dated by the artist "1537" in black ink.
  • Object Type: Drawing
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 89.GA.21
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Drawings
  • Culture: German
  • Classification: Drawings