HOLBEIN, Hans the Younger
(b. 1497, Augsburg, d. 1543, London)

Folly at the Lectern

Pen and brown ink, subsequently coloured red
Kupferstichkabinett, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel

In this introductory margin drawing in Myconius's copy of Erasmus's The Praise of Folly (fol. B, 40), Holbein presents Folly as a young woman wearing a fashionable dress with slit sleeves, preaching with eloquent gestures from a pulpit. Like the speaker, the congregation, who have made themselves comfortable in front of the pulpit, wear jester's caps. Thus Holbein (following Erasmus) makes clear that the listeners are themselves fools, as Folly will show with wit and irony in the course of her speech. In this edition of 1515, Johannes Froben prints Erasmus's text with Gerhard Lister's commentary on it in small type.