Guy Shares Examples Of Medieval Painters’ Attempts To Paint Animals Without Having Seen Them, And It’s Hilarious (17 Pics)

Medieval art is a treasure trove of weirdness. And we’re not the only ones to think so. Daniel Holland created a Twitter thread about medieval animals in paintings that look nothing like real animals because the artist hadn’t actually seen them. The thread went viral and loads of people are now experiencing the joys of drawings in bestiaries based on hearsay, unbridled imagination, and interesting stylistic choices.

Upvote your fave peculiar medieval beats, dear Pandas, and let us know which illustrations you loved the most and why. When you’re done enjoying these paintings, check out our posts about unexpected and creative medieval art right herehere, and here.

Daniel told Bored Panda that he was inspired to create the thread after seeing a segment in the TV show ‘Horrible Histories’ about inaccurate medieval art. This got him thinking what other examples were out there. Daniel was pleasantly surprised by the amount of attention the pictures got. Read on for the rest of his insights.

More info: Twitter | Instagram | DannyDutch.com#1 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report128pointsPOST

Mike Crow3 days ago

Could this be the first documentation of angry birds?109ReplyView More Replies…View more comments#2 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report124pointsPOST

Shinobi Shabby3 days ago

This on is pretty good for an artist who has never seen one165ReplyView More Replies…View more comments#3 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report113pointsPOST

Tiny Dynamine3 days ago

How can he have never seen a snail? His name is Dutch or Flemish, i.e. rain.52ReplyView More Replies…View more comments

While it’s easy to scoff at artists for not knowing how crocodiles, elephants, and tigers look, imagine having to draw them from memory. Better yet, try describing the animal to someone else and have them draw it! Or imagine how well we’d do if we had to draw an alien species when we only had overexaggerated tales from adventurers to go by.

However, there might be other reasons why medieval artists drew animals this way and it might not just be because of bad descriptions—it could have been a stylistic decision.

“I’ve been educated by a lot of replies I’ve had that these pictures were often painted in this style for a myriad of reasons, not necessarily because of poor descriptions received by the artists,” Daniel pointed out. “I’d assume if artists were given descriptions today without seeing animals and asked to paint them the only difference would be technical ability and materials used, they’d likely look just as inaccurate.”#4 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report112pointsPOST

DragonOfTheKitchenTable3 days ago

It’s……a green scaly dog…I think?38ReplyView More Replies…View more comments#5 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report108pointsPOST

tuzdayschild3 days ago

Someone gave this poor creature a glimpse into the year 2020.48ReplyView More Replies…View more comments#6 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report101pointsPOST

True Blue3 days ago

“I can see the resemblance” Said no one ever50ReplyView More Replies…View more comments

Bored Panda previously spoke about medieval illustrations with Dr. Catherine Harding from the University of Victoria and Professor Claire LaBrecque from the University of Winnipeg. According to them, medieval scribes and artists enjoyed creating rich and deep networks of meaning for their audiences with their paintings, sometimes with hidden meanings for their audiences to puzzle out. Also, they weren’t strangers to playfulness in their art.

How long each illustration took varied wildly depending on a lot of factors: from the size of the book to how complex the drawings were. Simple pen-and-wash illustrations could be done in minutes while more serious drawings required gold and precious pigments.#7 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report100pointsPOST

Hanni3 days ago

Why does it have male AND female genitalia?55ReplyView More Replies…View more comments#8 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report90pointsPOST

David K3 days ago

“So…you´re telling me that there is this elephasomething animal that grows size of a house?” “Yes, my liege, we saw them many.” “Nah, it can´t be. Johnson, draw it half a horse and look like a mix of a wolf, a boar and a trombone.” “Like this, sir?” “Righte.”73ReplyView More Replies…View more comments#9 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report82pointsPOST

DragonOfTheKitchenTable3 days ago

wait, it has a beak AND a mouth???45ReplyView More Replies…View more comments

“We have all these stereotyped ideas about how religious medieval people were. But the research shows over and over again how creative, playful and resilient they were,” Dr. Harding told Bored Panda. “There is strong evidence for people who thought outside of the box as in the case of a medieval heretic, who created their own mental world that runs counter to the culture. I love their mental agility and their passion for questioning. They made medieval Christianity over and over again in so many ways. That is the creative part.”

Professor LaBrecque said that, in her opinion, we’re living in a world that’s strange but not stranger than it was in medieval times. “It was just different, and unexpected, and super creative.”#10 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report69pointsPOST

tuzdayschild3 days ago

This is not a beaver, it’s a weaselfish. Trust me, they do not make good pets.46ReplyView More Replies…View more comments#11 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report68pointsPOST

Torchicachu3 days ago

also look at those mud boots they gave it. very fasionable33ReplyView More Replies…View more comments#12 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report66pointsPOST

pei meow3 days ago

ah, the blue spotted tiger41ReplyView More Replies…View more comments#13 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report63pointsPOST

Titas Burinskas3 days ago

Nice shoes, tornadophant48ReplyView more comments#14 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report59pointsPOST

Tiny Dynamine3 days ago

“And his balls, man… his balls were big!” – “And you say he was wearing a trenchcoat?” – “Yeah, totally.”93ReplyView More Replies…View more comments#15 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report56pointsPOST

Dana3 days ago

It kind of looks like a Komodo dragon31ReplyView More Replies…View more comments#16 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report50pointsPOST

kjorn3 days ago

wich is the lion and wich is the bear? hard to tell27ReplyView More Replies…View more comments#17 

Medieval-Animal-Paintings-That-Dont-Look-Real-Daniel-Holland

DannyDutch Report48pointsPOST

David K3 days ago

And he can apparently walk on water. By the way, is it a brocolli tree in the background?20ReplyView More Replies…View more comments

Follow Bored Panda on Google News!237 FollowJonas GrinevičiusWriter, BoredPanda staff

Jonas is a Bored Panda writer who previously worked as a world news journalist elsewhere. After getting his bachelor’s degree in Politics and International Relations at the University of Manchester, he returned home and graduated from Vilnius University with a master’s degree in Comparative Politics. Jonas enjoys writing articles ranging from serious topics like politics and social issues to more lighthearted things like art, pop culture, and nature. In his spare time, Jonas writes books and short stories and likes to draw lighthearted illustrations. A huge fan of literature, films, philosophy, and tabletop games, he also has a special place in his heart for anything related to fantasy or science fiction. Read more »

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