Born in Germany in the 17th century, Matthias Buchinger did not have an easy life: due to a congenital deformity, he had neither arms nor legs. But his physical disability didn't stop Buchinger from living a full life. He ended up fathering 14 children, he traveled all over Europe, and, incredibly, he built a career drawing intricate, minutely detailed pieces of art, 16 of which are now on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While we know that this isn't all an elaborate hoax due to many eyewitness descriptions of public shows in which Buchinger would draw in front of an audience, modern researchers are scratching their heads over exactly how he managed to create such incredible works of art, such as this stunning family tree.
As a New York Times review of the exhibit explains:
"Observers reported that he drew holding his pens between the stumps of both arms. That’s not so hard to fathom. What is puzzling is how he was able to write and draw so finely without, as far as is known, using magnifying devices. Not even Mr. Jay has been able to figure that out."
You can read more about Buchinger over at the Times, or at the exhibition website.