Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450 - 1516 ): Ship of Fools

Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450 - 1516 ): Ship of Fools

6/16/2021, 11:17:49 AM
Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450 - 1516 ): Ship of Fools, 1490-1500, Oil on wood, 58 cm × 33 cm (22.8 in × 13.0 in), Louvre, Paris Ship of Fools by Hieronymus Bosch is a fragment of a triptych that was cut into several parts. It was painted on one of the wings of the altarpiece, and is about two thirds of its original length. The bottom third of the panel belongs to Yale University Art Gallery and is exhibited under the title Allegory of Gluttony. 'Ship of Fools' depicts a group of ten people are gathered in a boat. The main group is comprised of a Franciscan friar and a nun playing a lute. They are seated facing each other. Their mouths are wide open as if singing, but they appear in fact to be biting, like their companions, a pancake hanging from the mast of the little boat. This is an allusion to a folk custom, which consists of eating a hanging pancake without using one's hands. Behind them are seated the two boatmen. One of them has a giant ladle instead of an oar. The other balances a glass on his head while brandishing a broken jug on his oar. On one side, a woman readies herself to strike a young man with a jug. He is holding a flagon that he trails in the water. On the other end, sitting on a makeshift rudder, a little man in the dress of a fool drinks from a cup. Next to him, another leans over to vomit. The whole scene is dominated by a mast topped with a bouquet of flowers in the middle of which can be seen an owl or a skull. Above floats the royal flag of France with the muslim crescent moon. A roasted goose is strapped to the mast. The joyful group appear adrift; a vast landscape in the background stretches toward infinity. It has been suggested that this unusual scene is an interpretation of The Ship of Fools, an allegory by the humanist Sebastian Brant, published in Basel in 1494. This work was illustrated by woodcuts showing ships loaded with fools drifting toward the "fool's paradise," called Narragonia.

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