The Blind Leading the Blind
Two Blind Men who Tumbled into a Ditch

Pieter van der Heyden, Flemish, c. 1530 - after 1572. After Hieronymus Bosch, Netherlandish, c. 1450 - 1516.

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

c. 1551-1570


Sheet: 8 11/16 x 10 3/16 inches (22 x 25.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Muriel and Philip Berman Gift, acquired from the John S. Phillips bequest of 1876 to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, with funds contributed by Muriel and Philip Berman, gifts (by exchange) of Lisa Norris Elkins, Bryant W. Langston, Samuel S. White 3rd and Vera White, with additional funds contributed by John Howard McFadden, Jr., Thomas Skelton Harrison, and the Philip H. and A.S.W. Rosenbach Foundation, 1985

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This illustration of a parable about spiritual blindness and poor religious guidance is accompanied by texts in Latin and French. While Latin was the language of the educated classes throughout Europe, French was widely spoken in the southern Netherlands (modern-day Belgium), suggesting that this print was intended for both learned and popular audiences.

The Latin text reads: “The blind man offers himself as guide to another blind man; it is lamentable that this happens so often nowadays. But what awaits them? What? Save only, ignorant of the way by which one is given to reach an intended destination, will they end up tumbling into an open ditch?”

The French text reads: “See how the unfortunate blind man finally fares. He who foolishly trusts another blind man goes unsteadily, no matter how heavily he leans on and holds tight to his man. Thus mismatched, both he and his escort fall into the ditch.”