This pen and ink sketch in the margins of an early copy of Erasmus’ Praise of Folly is one of 82 done by Hans Holbein (1497/98-1543) and his elder brother Ambrosius. In this drawing, the self-appointed goddess Folly, having given a sermon of brazen self-promotion, steps down from the pulpit. I liked the reference, in one commentary, to her arm being ‘rigid from gesturing’.
Published in 1515, Erasmus’ slim wry classic was a bestseller of its time, although later various authorities, both academic and religious, tried to rein in its irreverent influence, starting with the Sorbonne in 1543.
It’s a joy to read and one of the key works in the Fools’ Canon; see our quote-packed celebration of this timeless work.
Buck, Stephanie, Hans Holbein (Cologne: Könemann, 1999), p. 10.
Müller, Christian; Stephan Kemperdick; Maryan Ainsworth; et al, Hans Holbein the Younger: The Basel Years, 1515–1532 (Munich: Prestel, 2006), pp. 146–57.
Source: Wikimedia Commons