The Cuttest Critter

James recently asked me:

Just wondering what type of animal you think it is eating what is believed to be a Woad Plant on f25v

referring to this cute little critter.

I don’t think it’s supposed to be a real animal. My guess is it’s a little dragon; the scaly back, the comparatively short legs, the ears and comb on the neck, and the fact that it may only have two legs seem to be a good match for me. Compare here for the idea of a 15th century painter (Uccello) what a dragon is supposed to look like.

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3 thoughts on “The Cuttest Critter

  1. Dear Elmar,

    do you already know the “Erbario di Trento”?
    There is a very similar image (I don’t know how to give you the picture, but if you want I can manage to send you by mail). In this Erbarium, dated Northern Italy, XV century (contemporary to the VM), the image is referred to the “Ditamo blanco” (Dictamnus Albus, sorry I dont’ know the english name).

    In the description, you can read “This plant is good against the bites of snakes and other poisonous animals (…) when the animal sees this plant, he run away with fear (…)”. The most intriguing fact, in my opinion, is that the representation of the plant/dragon is exceptionally similar to the one of VM, both for the position and the rendering of the “beast” trying to eat the leave.

    Moreover, there is also a close similarity between the “Mandragola menore” (minor) of the Trento’s Erbarium and the VM image of the plant with the human faces at the roots (folio 33r).

    You will also see that the style of the drawings, and the set of pigments are very close.

    Have a look!

    Best regards,

    Luigi Feruglio

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