I tweeted this comparison between a Snark illustration by Henry Holiday and a painting by Matthias Grünewald as a comment to a tweet about an exhibit in the Musée Unterlinden. The painting is in a panel of the Isenheim Altarpiece which is exhibited in that Museum. They liked and retweeted the comparison.


I assume that Henry Holiday alluded to a printed low resolution reproduction of Grünewald’s painting. The image in the top of this page also has a relatively low resolution. You don’t see all the details as if your vision was blurred. That isn’t necessarily bad: When looking closer, the kittens might softly and suddenly vanish away. Fed with more detail, your brain probably will stop to try building a zoomorphic (or anthropomorphic in another case) picture from the whole scene. But you will discover a coat of arms which belongs to Guido Guersi de Delphinato, the preceptor who commissioned the altarpiece for the main altar of the Antonite Monastery near Colmar.

See also heraldique_fr @ twitter (2018-06-20).

Then there are those two wood blocks in Grünewald’s painting. Holiday turned one of them into an standish desk ink well. Christian Wirth explains based on W.G. Sebald‘s Nach der Natur (London 1988; After Nature, 2002; see also The Guardian, 2002) the function of those blocks: They are wooden water gutters. (Wirth’s page is in German; search for “als Rinne” and “ausgehöhltes Holz”.)

related blog post

2017-09-13, updated: 2022-06-20

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