1551 Gesner armoured rhino after Durer

1551 Gesner armoured rhino after Durer

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Gesner Woodcut "Icones Animalium" 1560, reproduced from 1551. Published Christoph Froschover, Zurich. Gesner reproduces this image faithfully from the famous 1515 woodcut by Durer, (who himself had only sketches to go on). The particular individual featured here was the gift of a Sultan, taken from India in January 1515 and arriving in Lisbon in May. People were astounded to see this animal - hitherto the only existing reports were in the accounts of the ancients such as Pliny. None had been seen in Europe for over 1000 years. Confirming Pliny's account was a vital validation of the texts from antiquity for renaissance scholars. The king of Portugal sent the rhino on to the Pope but it drowned, chained to the deck, in a shipwreck off Italy - hence the rather fanciful drawing of Durer and Gesner who never actually saw it. This image remained an icon for for centuries.

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Keywords: 16th century, animalium, animals, artwork, bestiary, colour, conrad, durer, early, exotic, fantasy, folklore, gesner, gessner, historiae, icones, illustration, middle ages, myth, natural history, pliny, renaissance, rhino, rhinoceros, woodcut

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