Cloisters Bestiary – Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cloisters Bestiary
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1960
60 pages

A rare find in a used bookstore, this is an assemblage of lore from medieval bestiaries,the collections of quaint and often fantastic natural histories of animals ranging from stags and wolves to unicorns and dragons.

“A Cloisters Bestiary” draws primarily from T.H. White’s “Book of Beasts” which itself combined material from a number of medieval texts. It is illustrated with photographs of contemporary sculptures, illuminated scripts and other artwork contemporary to the bestiaries, including some fine details from the Unicorn Tapestries.

It’s a quick read–60 pages, mostly pictures, more meant as an example than heavy reading material. Still, it captures the spirit of the medieval bestiary very nicely, and is good for a reference of that particular literary niche. The animal magician will find it useful as an example of where certain beliefs, particularly about mythical beasts, were derived.

Four pawprints out of five.

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