The Beast with Lamb's Horns, c. 1496-1497
woodcut on laid paper
38.8 x 27.9 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 2069)
Out of the sea rises a beast with ten horns and seven heads, representing the seven capital sins. The proudly erect lion’s head in the centre stands for Superbia (Pride), considered the root of evil; the dull face with little snail’s horns represents Acedia (Sloth); and the head with the beak and narrow-set eyes symbolizes Invidia (Envy). The crowd below follows this beast in admiration. At centre left, another beast with leonine features and lamb’s horns brings fire pouring down from the sky. Christ sits on high, wearing a golden crown and holding a sickle, a reference to the vision of the harvest of the earth’s vine. In the upper right, the angel with a sickle will reap grapes and cast them into the great winepress of God’s wrath, signifying the judgment of the damned (Rev. 14:17–19).