This is from the 1665 edition of Fortunio Liceti’s De Monstris. Okay, this was definitely an odd one to discover. And again, it is an engraving I am reproducing, so I have no photographic evidence as to what exactly was going on with the head/face of this sheep.
Liceti’s work was possibly the most influential of the period dealing with deformities and monsters. In the wake of his book there was a huge rise in interest throughout Europe in “monstrosities” such as supposed mermaids, deformed fetuses, and other natural marvels.
Licenti did not see deformity as something negative—errors and failures in the course of nature—unlike many of his contemporaries. He compared nature to an artist who, faced with some imperfection in the materials to be shaped, ingeniously creates another form still more admirable.