The Book of Miracles
Does this 500-year-old book that’s full of far-fetched tales have any relevance to today’s fantasy art?
First published in the German city of Ausburg in around 1550, The Book of Miracles was commissioned by Protestants to collate Biblical tales and more recent miraculous and apocalyptic events. The original manuscript lay hidden for years, but it was discovered in remarkably good condition in a private collection and reprinted by art specialist Taschen.
There’s a kind of perversity in looking back at the images from the present day. After all, many of the people who saw the images would have believed them to be true. The Tiber monster – a creature with the head of an ass and body of a woman – that washed up on the banks of the River Tiber, could have been considered a real entity walking among the god-fearing folk, rather than the bloated goat corpse it probably was.
We may laugh at such tales, but in the same section there’s a giant lizard and an omnipotent computer network – either sound familiar?
The Book of Miracles shows mankind has been telling far-fetched stories for centuries and could be considered a progenitor of fantasy illustration.
As the title hints, The Book of Miracles is full of miraculous and apocalyptic tales.
Not every fantasy is so far-fetched. There’s an omnipotent computer network for starters…