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  Grotesque (from Italian grottesca, ‘little cave’), in architecture, was a system of fanciful decoration based on Roman wall-paintings discovered in 1488 in the buried ruins (grottoes) of Nero\'s palace, the Domus Aurea (‘Golden House’). Painters of the Renaissance period made expeditions to the ruins to study them. Revived as a form of architectural decoration, incorporating scrolls and fantastic animals and birds, it proved remarkably adaptable in decorative work to classical architecture from the Renaissance onwards. JM  



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