Markup Languages in Art - Part 2: Durer's Rhinocerous

"On February 27, 2013, students in Lynda Barry’s “Unthinkable Mind” class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were given a piece of paper and a flair pen and asked to draw a picture that they couldn’t see. Professor Old Skull was the only one who could see the picture, and she described it line by line, asking them to draw along with the description. What happened? The picture Professor Old Skull was describing appears at the end of the video."

[Professor Lynda got this great idea from Robert Brinkerhoff.]

Click on any image to view its source.

"The absurd rendering of many of the animals comes about because the engravers/artists working on the project did not actually see the animals. They had to rely on descriptions and their imagination and, as was the fashion of the time, the animals were placed in contrived settings and often given human facial qualities, which only serves to heighten the sense of bizarre. And thankful we are too."  - Bibliodyssey "Despite these repeated assurances of their fidelity to nature, the colors used in the paintings are applied, more often than not, in a totally arbitrary fashion and bear no resemblance whatsoever to those of the living animals.  …We learn further that Sambia or Loop-Visch, an anglerfish of the family Antennariidae, was captured by the artist on the sand: 'I kept it alive for three days in my house; it followed me everywhere with great familiarity, much like a little dog.'"

- Theodore W. Pietsch, catalogue introduction, Samuel Fallours' Tropical Fishes of the East Indies (Taschen)

"Dürer's Rhinoceros is the name commonly given to a woodcut executed by German painter and printmaker Albrecht Dürer in 1515. The image was based on a written description and brief sketch by an unknown artist of an Indian rhinoceros that had arrived in Lisbon earlier that year. Dürer never saw the actual rhinoceros, which was the first living example seen in Europe since Roman times."


"Until the late 1930s, Dürer's image appeared in school textbooks in Germany as a faithful image of the rhinoceros."

Read Markup Lanuages in Art - Part 1: Vexing Ology