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 Museum Explorer

Birds and beasts
in Europe

Drawing of a rhinoceros

Height: 24.8 cm
Width: 31.7 cm

 

PD 1895-1-22-714 (B.136)

The rhinoceros, by Albrecht Dürer

From: Germany
Date: AD 1515

On 20 May 1515 Dom Manuel I, the king of Portugal, received an unusual present from the Sultan of Gujarat. The present arrived in a ship full of spices. It was a great Indian rhinoceros.

No one had seen a rhinoceros in Europe for more than 1000 years and the news spread quickly. Albrecht Dürer, an artist from Nuremberg, heard a description of the rhinoceros and made this drawing and a woodcut for printing. His picture became very famous and was much copied. However, he did not get it quite right as his rhinoceros has scaly legs and a plated body.