Arthur Rackham's Depiction of the Questing Beast

Questing Beast

   Following Morgawse's visit to his court, a troubled Arthur rides out on a hunt and spurs his horse in pursuit of a hart. But he continues the chase in reckless fashion and ends up killing his horse. While he waits, he fell into deep thought beside a fountain until his thoughts are interrupted by the noise of thirty hounds. Arthur sees the strangest beast coming towards the well. While the beast drinks, he is quiet but as it came and departed, the noise from its belly was like unto the questing of thirty hounds. The king drops off to sleep to be awakened by Pellinore who seeks the beast stating that he had pursued the beast for a twelvemonth. Pellinore takes the new horse that had been brought for Arthur and sets off again.
   In most of the illustrations to be found, the general depiction of the beast is similar to a cross between a Nile crocodile and a komodo dragon but Malory was stinting in his descriptions and we can only guess if these drawings might reflect the reality. It might be surmised that the beast could have been a large crocodile that had been brought from the African coast and had somehow managed to survive. Legend would have us believe that it was one of the fabled dragons pursued and fought by knights such as Launcelot and St. George.

Louis Rhead's Depiction of the Questing Beast