Above is a curious and captivating of two nude jousters -- male and female(?) -- on snails. This is from the Baldus de Ubaldis. Lectura super Institutionibus. 1480-1481. The best part of this image is that it remains an utter mystery as to what sort of allagorical or rhetorical meaning they were trying to express by placing jousting snails in the marginalia. (Most of the images are of armored knights and this is the only one I've ever seen of two nude firghters moving v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y toward each other. I did some internet checking and found this hilarious scholarly debate about the jousting snails. (It reads like something from a Monty Python sketch) And here too -- another attempt at a scholarly debate/discussion what the hell were those monks thinking!
I am not at all sure what the artist was thinking when he added this little marginal painting in a manuscript, but I love it. An angry oyster protecting a pearl? unwilling to be eaten? or just ornery from a life time of an irritating parasite giving him a silvery ulcer. Maybe a painter frustrated in love since the oyster “exciteth Venus."
Jacob van Maerlant, Der Naturen Bloeme, Flanders ca. 1350 (Den Haag, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KA 16, fol. 108v) This manuscript is rather interesting and features quite a few "angry" creatures and some even stranger pairings...like this one below:
Midori Snyder is the author of nine novels for children and adults. She won the Mythopoeic Award for The Innamorati, a novel inspired by early Roman myth and the Italian "Commedia dell'Arte" tradition. more>>