Sea Serpents: Sea Serpent of Gloucester!


This image is drawn from an early engraving depicting the monster with the caption, “Taken from life as appeared in Gloucester Harbour, August 23, 1817”.
First mentioned in 1638, and last seen in 1962, it was about seventy feet long, with big eyes, sharp teeth, and a scaly body. The serpentine beast was said to lurk in the waters off the harbor of Gloucester,located just north of Boston on the lower portion of Cape Ann.
During the summer of 1817, the serpent made its temporary home in the harbor. For almost an entire month, sightings were reported. This is particularly significant as Gloucester has always been a fishing community populated by individuals who were well familiar with the fauna of the sea.
General David Humphreys, a former member of George Washington’s staff, travelled down to Gloucester to interview witnesses. According to the testimony he gathered, the creature’s head, which it held above the water, was “much like the head of a turtle… and larger than the head on any dog.” Its color was like “dark chocolate”, although as the years went on its skin seemed to turn darker, to almost black. In a compilation of sightings printed in the Boston Weekly Messenger it was further reported that the creature was sixty to seventy feet in length, that it was about as wide as a barrel, that it moved rapidly in a serpentine fashion, that it was able to double back upon itself instantaneously. Countless people tried to kill it with muskets and harpoons but failed. Between 1817 and 1819, hundreds of people  reported seeing the monster.

Monstrous Engravings: The Onager Aldrovandi!

 Onager Aldrovandi, © 2015 Liz Vitale
Onager Aldrovandi, © 2015 Liz Vitale

In John Jonston’s Historia Naturalis ,published in 1657, there exists many beautiful (and sometimes horrifying) engravings of creatures both real and imaginary; however, the animals we know as fanciful today we

re treated then with the same reverence as if they were completely true-to-life, since during this era many beasts such as dragons and unicorns were considered quite real and worthy of study.

Several unicorns are mentioned, and the animal I drew above is listed and pictured with them.

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Monstrous Engravings: Unknown Sea Monster Caught in Nantes.

Unknown sea monster caught in Nantes,© 2015 Liz Vitale

I drew this after a peculiar engraving I found while looking for Map Monsters. Made in France in the 18th century, this image shows a creature with some sea turtle-like features but it also has a strange penguin-like form as well. I am going to guess that, like a lot of sea serpent carcasses hauled up from the depths, this creature was probably the decayed remains of a perfectly natural and normal animal and decomposition rendered it unrecognizable.

This is also the first page in a new journal/sketchbook given to me by Crazy Cuz’n Jaime, after she got to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios!

Potter Book 6_8_2015

Thank you, Jaime!

Monstrous Engravings: “Demon Summoned by a Witch”

While looking through Google results of “monster engravings”,I came upon this wonder. There was a witch kneeling in front of the three-headed creature, but I left her off. This is one of the strangest conjunctions of heads I have ever seen on a monster; a bird’s head with a forked tongue, a man-like head, and a head that looks quite like an otter’s.
it’s been a lot of fun drawing like the old engravings; it really makes me focus on just how many small lines go into shadowing a particular area.

The Cosmographia Unaversalis is an amazing compilation of books by Sebastian Munster; he and I would have gotten along swimmingly, judging by our interests. Not only is the Cosmographia Unaversalis full of maps of faraway places, but the books are loaded with a wide variety of subjects: “portraits of kings and princes, costumes and occupations, habits and customs, flora and fauna, monsters, wonders, and horrors”.