Have you ever wandered around an art gallery filled with old paintings and thought to yourself, "What were these people on?!" Because, let's face it, some of the art from hundreds of years ago is pretty strange. Just take one look at the animal paintings from this era — they are utter nightmare-fuel. But they're also kind of hilarious...
1. Sneering snail
We don’t know about you, but we’re pretty relieved that snails look nothing like this in the real world. Imagine coming face-to-face with this thing in your garden. Even your flowers would be scared!
The nightmarish figure you see here first appeared in a pictorial version of the 13th-century manuscript Der Naturen Bloeme: that translates as The Flower of Nature. Quite why it’s so angry is anyone’s guess.
2. Owls about that?
From their piercing eyes to their flexible necks, there’s always been something quite otherworldly about owls. But even so, that doesn’t explain this bizarre piece of art. What’s going on here?
Well, in medieval bestiaries, owls were frequently used as a critical allegory of Judaism. The birds' nocturnal habits and daylight weakness was meant to highlight the perceived “spiritual blindness” of Jewish people compared to Christians back then.
3. That’s not Tony the Tiger
Elegant, graceful, beautiful — those are just some of the words we’d use to describe tigers. This guy, though? Not so much! Yep, that’s a medieval take on the predatory big cat from the medieval manuscript called Der Naturen Bloeme.
While the human face is more than a little unsettling, we can’t stop looking at that neck. Is anyone else getting weird camel vibes? And the less said about the placement of that tree trunk the better...
4. No monkey business
Good luck finding a creepier illustration than this one. It’s meant to be a monkey — we’re serious! Talk about an unflattering portrayal. It’s a little like looking at Curious George through a strange Instagram filter.
You’d have to be a brave animal to approach this fella in the jungle. It's even got human thumbs! And one glance at its gurning face could haunt your dreams forever.