A Closer Look at the Pond Critters
Have you ever wondered what is going on underneath the green paint in the VMS “mermaid” pond? I was curious too, as a result of a post by Koen Gheuens, one of the other researchers.
The green paint on folio 79v is laid on fairly thick, so it’s hard to tell, but I took some time to digitally remove as much as I could without destroying the outlines of the animals and discovered more than I expected.
Here is the original picture of the bottom right side of the folio, with three of the pond critters that are hard to identify. The upper right one looks a bit like a dead lamb except that it is painted a brick-red color. The lower left looks a bit like a reptile or a badly drawn weasel-like mammal. Oddly the tail has been painted over (I’ve mentioned this on a previous blog). The bottom right resembles a lion rampant with the head of another animal:
Something I noticed when I removed the green is that the back and stomach of the lower-left critter have been overdrawn with a darker ink and the bumps on the back of the reddish creature look like they may have been added or emphasized later.
The biggest surprise was that tree-branch like shape coming out from or behind the reddish animal. It appears to be the animal’s tail but I’m not completely sure. The same thing happens lower left—there’s possibly and extra “branch” to the tail but it doesn’t appear as strongly connected as the tail-shape on the upper right.
At first I thought the extra tail lines in the lizard-like creature to the left were a mistake, a slip of the pen, but after seeing the branched tails under the green paint on the right, I realize it was probably deliberate. The creature on the left may look like a lizard but it has a very unlizard-like fuzzy tail.
The dog-lion looks essentially the same, after removing the paint, except that you can see the ears better. I’m not sure if this reveals anything more about the identities of the pond creatures, but whoever covered over the “tails” with green may have done so intentionally as it alters their appearance quite a bit.
While adjusting the scans, I noticed something on the left-hand side of the pond that is hard to discern. Some of it is green, which makes it difficult to separate out from the pond-paint and some is brown (near the bottom) but it’s such a light brown, it’s difficult to make it show up better. The only part that seems somewhat clear is the shape at the bottom that looks like a bowl. The rest is subject to interpretation but could be a flower with an onion-like bulb and spidery roots. You’ll have to look closely at the high-res scans to see it.
The two rows of dots at the bottom, by the bowl-shape seem very ordered but they might be pores in the parchment and not part of a drawing. This reminds me a bit of the flower-like shapes in the yellowish-leaf on folio 1v, but they aren’t terribly clear either.
I’ll leave it up to the viewer to decide if there’s an overpainted image on the left side of the pond and whether it bears any relationship to the underlying penstrokes on other folios.
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