European Medieval and Renaissance Images

Medieval and Renaissance Christian and secular artists had no religious restrictions regarding depictions of Mohammed, and were free to show his face and body in their entirety.


Illustration depicting a schematized Mohammed from an early medieval Latin translation of the Koran, from a manuscript in la Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal, in Paris. This may be the earliest known depiction of Mohammed, possibly dating from the mid-12th century. This reproduction is from the book Naissance de l'Europe, by Robert S. Lopez (published 1962) (taken from Deux traductions latines du Coran, by Marie-Therese D'Alverny [published 1948]).


Mohammed preaching, from a medieval illuminated manuscript,

with historically inaccurate landscape and clothing

(a common problem in medieval and Renaissance paintings,

which usually showed fashions that were contemporary with the time the painting was made,

rather than showing the costumes of the era depicted)


This picture is of an early Renaissance fresco in Bologna's Church of San Petronio,

created by Giovanni di Modena

and depicting Mohammed being tortured in Hell.

In 2002, Islamic extremists plotted

to blow up the church in order to destroy the image.

The fresco is in an inaccessible part of the church and is now only visible at an angle from a distance; this old black-and-white image is one of the few official photos ever taken

that shows a straight frontal view of the figures.

Colored Renaissance print showing Mohammed at court,

with wildly inaccurate fashions.

The following two peculiar line drawings show Mohammed dressed in Renaissance-era German garb and not behaving as one might expect:

"His Wife Scolding the Drunken Mohammed,"

German woodcut print, c. 1481.

Source (for this image and the one below):

The Illustrated Bartsch. Vol. 83, German Book Illustration before 1500

Anonymous Artists, 1481-1482.

Series title:

Reysen und Wanderschaften durch das Gelobte Land /

Travels and Wanderings Through the Holy Land.

"Mohammed Cursing the Vines," German woodcut print, c. 1481.

Presumably Mohammed is cursing the vines for producing the grapes that got him drunk.

Return to Contents