French seventeenth-century grotesque costumes is a very rare series of fancy trade costumes by de Larmessin (or L’Armessin). L’Armessin family was a renowned French dynasty of engravers, printers, and booksellers active during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The suite of prints depict people in fancy dresses of different professions. The series of these beautiful prints was given various titles: Les costumes grotesques et les metiers, Costumes grotesques, or Habits des metiers et professions. These exceptionally beautiful prints were made by Nicolas de Larmessin II (1638-1694), known for his numerous engravings for books, calendars, almanacs, and various decorative prints. Each plate is devoted to a single stylized character, usually an itinerant craftsman, merchant or street vendor. The figures are portrayed much in the manner of Arcimboldo, the accoutrements and tools of their particular trade whimsically adorning their clothes, and sometimes constituting their anatomies.
Jardiniere, or the gardener has a floral and fruit composition for a hat, clay flower pots for forearms, and fruits and flowers for legs, with hoes, rakes and a scythe over one shoulder and a watering can in the other hand.
A very rare series of this famous French seventeenth-century suite of fancy trade costumes. The clockmaker/seller (Orlogeur) is composed of an elegant table clock as his chest, with chiming bells as a hat, pocket watches dangling from each arm and leg, and clock keys and winding devices hanging from his belt. The surrealistic aspect of the figures, dressed as if to attend a costume ball at the court of Louis XIV, removes them from the grime of the workplace and brings them into the realm of the marvelous. Some of the figures’ now unfamiliar accoutrements are at the same time the subject of esoteric study, the Larmessin engravings being a source for historians of the art and material culture of this period of pre-factory production.
This group of 38 engravings includes the following figures:
Money Changer (Monnoyeur)
Maker of Table Games (Tabletier)
Printer (Imprimeur en Lettres)
Knife and Sissor Sharpener (Remouleur Gaigne Petit)
Plumber (Plombier), Cobbler (Sauetier)
Second-hand Clothes Seller (Fripier)
Dairyman and Cheesemaker (Layettier)
Farm Laborer (Labourer)
Wild Game Chef/Seller (Rotisseur)
Wine Merchant (Cabaretier)
Chest and Box Maker (Malletier-Coffretier)
Comb and Brush Seller (Peigne)
Coffee Merchant (Caffetier)
Plume and Feather Seller (Plumassier)
Playing Card Printer (Cartier)
Perfume Maker/Seller (Parfumeur)
French seventeenth-century grotesque costumes