Imaginary creatures

In around 1500 a German author created this natural history encylopedia, the Ortus Sanitatis (garden of health) to describe all the plants, animals, fish and minerals that were known and which could be used for medicinal purposes. Many of them were drawn based on the descriptions read in ancient texts, and the artist had never actually seen the creatures he was depicting. This is particularly clear in the case of mythical creatures such as unicorns, phoenixes, and dragons, all of which are described in exactly the same detail as real animals. Click ‘Open Digital Library’ below to see more of these creatures.

Ortus sanitatis

Mainz, 1491


Extended captions