Early in 1496 there are two records (possibly referring to the same event) of the birth of a 'monstrous' pig with two bodies, one head, two tongues, eight legs and another set of legs protruding upwards from its back. One appeared at Easter, recorded in the Nuremberg Chronicle, the other, in a pamphlet published by Sebastian Brandt in Basel, locates the unusual event in the Alsatian village of Landser, and dates it precisely to 1st March 1496. This usefully provides the first secure date for any of Dürer's early prints.
The years immediately preceding 1500 were rife with dire warnings of the arrival of the millennium - indeed Dürer's Apocalypse (lot 131) explicitly illustrated the fears of those who believed the Last Judgement was upon them - and Brandt in his pamphlet interpreted the birth of the monstrous sow as a portent of things to come. In the present work, however, Dürer was clearly less interested in the chiliastic aspect of the event than a scientific description of a natural curiosity.