Harry Potter fans (such as myself) will certainly enjoy this basilisk grotesque carved into the façade of Amiens Cathedral in France. It is interesting that the basilisk (or cockatrice) of medieval legend looks almost nothing like the one described in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but its other characteristics and the deadly effects of its stare are identical. As a nerdy bonus, here is a great article from the Smithsonian Magazine about the history of the basilisk legend.
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Alexandra Kiely, aka A Scholarly Skater, is an art historian based in the northeastern United States. She loves wandering down the dark and dusty corners of art history and wholeheartedly believes in visual art's ability to enrich every person's life.
Her favorite periods of art history are 19th-century American painting and medieval European art and architecture. When she not looking at, reading about, writing about, or teaching art, she's probably ice dancing or reading.
View all posts by Alexandra Kiely (A Scholarly Skater)
8 thoughts on “Fantastic Beasts (Oh Look, I Found One)”
What a fantastic find! As a fellow Harry Potter fan, I share your excitement and it’s great to learn more about the legend too. Thanks for sharing them both.
Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
Hi Alex. Excellent article and post, thanks. In an instance of spooky serendipity I completed conservation work on a mid C17 domestic wall painting that may (or may not!) depict a basilisk on the very day your post arrived in my inbox. We were – and still are – unsure of the subject matter, but it contains remains of a cockerel, a snake and 2 brown animals that we thought may be foxes but, if it was indeed a basilisk, then they could be weasels – according to the legend. Unfortunately, the cockerel and snake elements are on a different (and later) layer than the weasels (if that is what they are); although that could simply mean a repainting of the same scheme – not uncommon in English wall painting. Anyway, it has given me considerable food for thought as I write my treatment report, especially as I am hard-pressed at the moment to think of another example of a wall painting of a basilisk in wall painting. Perhaps your readership knows of others…..?
I must admit that I enjoy that kind of spooky serendipity. I don’t know much about basilisks on wall paintings, but a quick search did turn up this:
Must read that Smithsonian article. Much thanks for following First Night Design! I also have a history blog you might like (mostly re-blogs) http://firstnighthistory.wordpress.com
Thanks for letting me know. I just followed that one, too. Glad to see you liked my Isabella Stewart Gardner piece. 🙂
The Smithsonian article is definitely worth a read.
That was quick – thank you!
I’m not usually that speedy. I just happen to be sitting right next to my computer.