Gallery: Ulissi Aldrovandi's Monstrous 16th Century Woodcuts


We admit, we felt a little weird inside when we stumbled across these surreal woodcut illustrations from Aldrovandi’s 1642 ‘Monstorum Historia‘ over at BibliOdyssey. Though the scholar and philosopher’s intricate, bizarre portraits of monsters showcase his keen interest in the natural world (Aldrovandi helped found the botanical gardens in Bologna and was awarded the first Professorial chair in natural science), his ‘Monstorum Historia‘ (A History of Monsters) was a compendium of both reported and fantastical monstrosities. At the time, no real distinction was made between scientific and literary creatures, so every mythic character existed for Aldrovandi in the strange space between reality and fiction. Click through to see Aldrovandi’s monstrous woodcuts, and maybe leave a night light on tonight.

Capreolus Polyceros

Monstrum triceps capite Vulpis, Draconis, & Aquilae

Monstrum tetrachiron alatum capite humano aurito

Homo Fanesius auritus


Monstrum Marinum rudimenta habitus Episcopi referens

Aper Marinus Cetaceus

Infans [..], cum promuscide, & capitibus animalium

Monstrosus Sur marinus

Gallus Indicus auritus tridactylus

Monstrum cornutum, and alatum aliud

Monstrum hermaphroditicum pedibus aquilinis