The History of the Encounter


The knights of the the Middle Ages used to have stylized and highly colored drawings painted on their shields. These enabled them to quickly distinguish friend from foe when they were clobbering each other on the battlefield. These paintings, called the knight's "arms", were originally simple geometric shapes, but through the centuries, they evolved towards a more elaborate evocation of the reality and the para-reality that surrounded the said knights. That is why coats of arms are often adorned with various representations of all the animals known at the time, but also with those of multiple fanciful beings, such as


Dragons (source:

Sirens (source:

Unicorns (source:


Chimeras (source:

In heraldry, the colorful language of the coat of arms, the French word "rencontre" (meaning encounter) designates the head of an animal seen full face and showing both eyes. Technically speaking, an animal seen as a "rencontre" is described as "guardant", or "caboshed", if the head is severed at the neck. Guardant is defined in opposition to "passant", an adjective applied to an animal seen in profile..


As an example:

The horse in this painting titled Free, is guardant, as in a "rencontre", while

this painting called Passage de dragon, is represents a dragon passant!

I stretched the concept of encounter just enough so that it would encompass humans as well as animals. Today, even though it is  not my only type of drawing, the "rencontre" has become my favourite theme.


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