The Ship of Fools

Pieter van der Heyden, Flemish, c. 1530 - after 1572. In the manner of Hieronymus Bosch, Netherlandish, c. 1450 - 1516. Published by Hieronymus Cock, Netherlandish, c. 1510 - 1570.

Published in Antwerp, Southern Netherlands (modern Belgium), Europe



Sheet: 8 15/16 x 11 11/16 inches (22.7 x 29.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the SmithKline Beckman Corporation Fund, 1958

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Here a fool steers a boat filled with singing revelers wholly absorbed in their music-making and unmindful of their ship’s course, which runs dangerously close to shore. The cherries held by the fool symbolize lust, while the jug attached to the ship’s side is an indication of the group’s drunkenness. The print criticizes absentmindedness, prurience, intemperance, and misplaced trust in a fool’s ability to captain a ship.