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Best. Drolleries. Ever. [29 Nov 14] Two true wemics in illuminated manuscripts

Just about a year ago, I blogged, in fact, twice, about lion-human creatures sketched into the margins of prayer books for the amusement, presumably, of both the reader and the artist. Known as "drolleries" or "grotesques," these fantastical creatures could not be called wemics or liontaurs, because they lack four legs. However, take a look at these pages from prayer books I just found online (click on each page to embiggen):

sagittary or liontaur or wemic in a medieval prayer book sagittary or liontaur or wemic in a medieval prayer book
Source: The J. Paul Getty Museum | Decorated Text Pages | Nicolas Spierinc, scribe; Unknown illuminator | Flemish, 1469 | Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment | 2 1/2 x 1 13/16 in. | MS. 37, FOL. 30V.

These beauties are from a prayer book in the collection of The J. Paul Getty Museum. They are clearly liontaurs in that they have four leonine paws in addition to two human hands. Okay, yes, they have wings, and even more oddly, faces in their lion bellies, but I still officially claim them as wemics! Here, look at the details:

And to add some speculation to the wonder, I think it is relevant that they are using bow and arrow. That places them firmly in the sagittary tradition, and suggests that they are not the completely original doodles of an illuminator, but rather that the artist was exploring a meme with which he was familiar, perhaps from the coat of arms of Stephen of Blois, or maybe from some other relatively concurrent usage.

Regardless of the inspiration, though, these are just wonderful.

Home | This page last modified: 29 Nov 14