Updated: Apr 6, 2021
During his life, German painter and printmaker Albrecht Dürer never set eyes on an actual rhinoceros. He did, however, have a written description and (very) approximate sketch of one, made by an unknown artist who had observed an Indian rhinoceros that arrived in Lisbon in 1515. From these, Dürer was able to make this remarkable woodcut, now known as Dürer’s Rhinoceros (1515). It depicts a large, powerful animal with strange, scaly legs and hard plates covering its body. Whilst not an entirely accurate anatomical representation of a rhinoceros, prints of Dürer’s woodcut became popular in Europe and were copied countless times, making it one of the most influential images of an animal in art.
Albrecht Dürer's The Rhinoceros (1515) via The Guardian