While working on my previous post on the possible relationship between Richard Pynson’s 1506 Kalender of Shepherdes and William Shakespeare’s Othello, I turned to the sources of the Kalender’s Vision of Lazarus. I checked Pynson against not only the French Compost et kalendrier des bergers, but also against the Ars Moriendi in general and L’Art de bien viure et de bien mourir in particular.

As my weekly Twitter series #WoodcutWednesday was coming up, I flipped through the entirety of the Library of Congress’ digital edition of the 1494 Antoine Vérard L’Art de bien viure et de bien mourir (Available here). It was here that I discovered this hidden gem:


I was initially amused by the seemingly suicidally depressed unicorn central to the image, Tweeting it as follows:

That was when the magic happened. Prompted by both @Exhaust_Fumes and @Emhistblog, I returned to the image to look again at the animals besides the depressed Clyde. It was then that I discovered the early modern meme paradise hidden within this single woodcut in plain sight.

Allow me to introduce you to a new cast of early modern #WoodcutWednesday meme-worthy characters I’ve discovered within it.

1. Clyde, Depressed Unicorn:


You might have thought unicorns lived wonderful, carefree lives full of magic, majesty, and rainbows. You would be wrong.


2. Maxwell, Disapproving Rabbit:


Even before someone discovered the “disapproval face,” Disapproving Rabbit was already fed up with your shit.


3. Sam, Tripping Stag:


Don’t let his posture fool you, Sam is tripping balls.


I’m fairly convinced Tripping Stag had a hoof in the bizarre handcoloring of this copy.

4. Sally, Dissmissive Dog


She doesn’t even break character or have time for this next guy:



6. Nigel, Haughty Camel


7. Norbert, Complacent Bull


While the rest of the Meme Menagerie seems discontent or stoned out of their minds, Complacent Bull is complaecent.

8. Lucian, Cantankerous Wolf


Cantankerous Wolf is not impressed.

You may have the impression wolves gather in packs and howl at the moon in unison like these guys:

Three Wolves Howling at the Moon

But not Lucian. He solitarily glowers at moon and sun alike. If there were three Cantankerous Wolves, they would simply glare at it with marvellously passionate intensity until it dropped from the sky. It might look something like this:


9. Miles, Sexually Inappropriate Swine


Enough said.

10. Billy, Stoned Stud


Unlike the anxious, tweaking Sam, Billy has a nice mellow buzz.

11. And then there’s this guy:


Let me see that face.


Looks familiar.

Could it be this guy?


While I thought I had to use Tard as my Medieval MSS Grumpy Cat in this previous post, I think we’ve finally found a proper Late Medieval or Early Modern Grumpy Cat.


…And, yes, Grumpy Cat is a Time Lord.

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