This enigmatic painting by Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem (1562-1638) features a fool with the cap so often attributed to European jesters, though it remains unclear the extent to which real court jesters ever wore such caps. I have yet to come across a portrait of a historical jester wearing one, nor to any references in court account books to this emblematic piece of fool clothing. That said, the debate remains open.
Also interesting is something in the facial expression which suggests he may have been a ‘natural’ fool, a term commonly used to include some form of mental disability.
Would be wonderful to know if this is a faithful representation of a living person, or a superb depiction of a type. Keep you posted if I find out more.
Credit: painting of a Jester in a Fool’s Cap, Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem (1562-1638), Frans Hals Museum, Amsterdam, public domain