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.
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.