Ink drawing on paper, 9 x 7 inches, 2017 Private collection
Two-headed animals of all kinds have always been popular sideshow attractions. Snakes are especially prone to the phenomenon, and have the added bonus of being a creature that many people fear. Consequently, two-headed snakes are proven money-makers.
The inspiration for this drawing came from the reverse of Hans Memling's circa 1470 dyptich of Saints John and Veronica (National Gallery of Art, Washington DC). According to the legend of St. John the
Evangelist, he miracously survived a draft of poisoned wine by blessing the liquid before drinking it. In iconography, the poison is symbolized by a serpent but the ladder snake depicted here is a non-venomous species.