Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Fool: from the collection of Professor Julius Held

An Allegory of Folly painted by the Flemish painter Quentin Massys (1466-1530) around 1510, depicts the deformed person with a "wen" on his forehead, that is a tumor believed to be the cause of the person's disability. He places one finger to his lips, a gesture explained by the text "keep your mouth shut" (Mondeken toe); with the other hand he holds a staff whose top has a puppet "fool". His obscene posture relates to derisive insults fools made or which were directed at them. The wise fool, the joker, is one topos; the mentally disabled another. For further information see auction catalog The Scholar's Eye: Property from the Julius Held Collection, Christie's, New York, Part I, Tuesday 27, January 2009, 99-100 (Lot 66).

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