“The Rhinoceros” by Albrecht Drürer

Imagine having never seen a rhinoceros, and only having heard of it in legend. How would you draw it? This print is the first glimpse of the beast for most of Europe and was used a model to illustrate a rhino for two centuries after its creation. German Renaissance printmaker, Albrecht Drürer, first heard of the Rhinoceros when a friend wrote him a letter describing an Indian sultan giving one to the King Manuel I of Portugal during a diplomatic exchange in 1515. The King then sent it to the Medici Pope Leo X as a gift to curry favor, but the ship carrying it sank, taking the rhinoceros with it. Drürer never saw the beast, but heard of it in letter and tales, inspiring him to make a woodcut in what he believed to be its image exaggerating the armour. This woodcut is one of 250 that Drüer made in his lifetime. It is still a widely used and celebrated print to this day. While this print is not one of the originals, it is nearly contemporary, being printed in 1620. It is remarkably lifelike, given the constraints Drürer operated under.

Ali Zildjian and Claire Gordy