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Beautiful Monsters

Albrecht Dürer
The Beast with Lamb's Horns, c. 1496‑1497
Woodcut on laid paper, 38.8 x 27.9 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Photo © NGC

Albrecht Dürer
La bête aux cornes d'agneau, v. 1496‑1497
Gravure sur bois sur papier vergé, 38.8 x 27.9 cm
Musée des beaux‑arts du Canada, Ottawa
Photo © MBAC

This exhibition analyzes the representation of monstrous beings in Early Modern visual culture by bringing together approximately fifty European prints of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries drawn from the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. The engravings, etchings and woodcuts assembled in this exhibition showcase real and fictitious beasts and monsters in exuberant and enigmatic compositions. The selection includes surprising and strange images of handsome beasts and hideous creatures executed with bravura. Often violent, they bring to light certain religious or moral anxieties, while others, such as the celebrated Battle of the Sea Gods by Andrea Mantegna, depict mythological and allegorical themes that combine beauty and the grotesque. Moreover, they bear witness to the unbridled imagination of Albrecht Dürer and Jacques Callot, among many others, and also to a collective imagination that expresses a singular vision of the world. The exhibition is divided into five sections: religious chimeras, mythological creatures, sea monsters, war horses and decorative motifs. Organized by Sonia Del Re, Acting Associate Curator of European, American and Asian Prints and Drawings, the exhibition will be presented at the Art Gallery of Alberta from 14 October 2012 to 17 March 2013.

Organized by
  • National Gallery of Canada


Monday: closed
Tuesday: 12-6pm
Wednesday: 12-6pm
Thursday: 12-8pm
Friday: 11am-5pm
Saturday: 11am-5pm
Sunday: 11am-5pm


AGA members
Youth 0-17
Alberta students 18+
Out-of-province students
General admission
Seniors 65+


2 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T5J 2C1