Search collection catalog »
E-NEWS Facebook logo Twitter logo Google logo YouTube

Drawings & Prints

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

Printed Books & Bindings

Literary & Historical Manuscripts

Music Manuscripts & Printed Music

Ancient Near Eastern Seals & Tablets


Paintings & Art Objects


Collections | Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

Views: List | Single work | Overview Zoom+

Sawfish and Ship
Bestiary, in Latin. England, probably Lincoln, before 1187
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1902; MS M.81, fol. 69
See more information »

The medieval Book of Beasts, a pseudoscientific treatise interspersed with moralizations on animals' habits, was adapted from the Physiologus, a Greek text that had been translated into Latin by the fifth century. Illustrated versions with line drawings appeared in large numbers by the twelfth century, but the Morgan copy is one of the first with fully painted pictures. Here a sawfish (called serra in Latin), having seen a sailboat, starts to outfly it but cannot keep up the effort. The boat symbolizes the righteous, who are firm in their faith; the sawfish, those who cannot keep up good works. The moral: You don't get anywhere by starting, but by pressing on.

List of works
Text only list
Search images

Order images
Top of page

© The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, (212) 685-0008

Home Museum »
Visit the Museum
Public Programs
Collection »
Collection highlights
Online Exhibitions
Music Manuscripts Online
The Drawing Institute
CORSAIR Collection Catalog
Research »
CORSAIR Collection Catalog
Research Services
Reading Room
Research Guides
The Drawing Institute
Photography & Rights
About »
History of the Morgan
The Morgan Campus
Support »
Make a Donation
Corporate Membership
Corporate Entertaining
Shop Contact

E-News | Site Index | Terms and Conditions

The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.