Hieronymus Bosch, Ship of Fools cotton tote

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All over print canvas bag with black handles and black lining, made of 100% thick cotton. On one side is the lower part of Hieronymus Bosch's painting The Ship of Fools, and on the other side is the upper part. This lively canvas bag can be our practical and fun companion when shopping, walking or going to work. 

The Ship of Fools, ca. 1500–1510 © Paris, Musée du Louvre Photo © Paris, Musée du Louvre, Département des Peintures

Exhibition: Between Heaven and Hell. The Enigmatic World of Hieronymus Bosch, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, 8 April – 17 June 2022

The Ship of Fools and An Allegory of Intemperance panels fit together to make a whole, which in turn forms a (presumed left) interior wing of an important late Bosch secular triptych. The original interior central panel is lost, and its subject remains unknown, but together these remaining panels show foolish humans enacting deadly sins, probably the theme of the missing centre. The left wing was sawed horizontally, separating the large boat of revelers above from the fat man on a barrel below and making two coherent separate compositions. In both wings Bosch attacks sinful materialism, whether of sensual lust and gluttony or acquisitive greed. The Ship of Fools title derives from a popular social and religious satire by the German humanist Sebastian Brant, published in Basel in 1494 and widely reprinted and translated.

The Ship of Fools segment shows a boat filled with merrymakers and approached by swimmers. Its prow faces left, away from the lost centre, with a large spoon as a rudder at back; it moves from right to left, against the visual habits of viewers. Its mast is a tree, whose top houses an owl, ominous bird of night, denoting evil and folly in Northern tradition. Also signaling evil, a fluttering pennant on the mast bears a crescent moon, symbol of Islam. At the bottom of the tree hangs a large round pancake, the indulgent food of carnival, and on either side of it sit a monk and a nun with open mouths (though they could also be singing, since she strums a lute). Drinking is everywhere. A wine cooler hangs from the boat; a barrel is at its rear. Another nun attacks a man with a crock. One swimmer carries a cup, and another man has a glass on his head. An overindulgent drinker throws up over the stern. The most significant figure, however, is a costumed fool, perched on a branch above the barrel and also sipping wine from a cup. His traditional garb features asses’ ears, and he holds a marot, a talking-stick or mock scepter, whose face can be accused of speaking in his stead. Thus the entire ship is indeed a ship of fools, decadent and self-indulgent as it sails on without a captain.

More Information
Weight 0.10 kg
Material cotton
Size 430 mm x 360 mm, handles ca. 65 mm
Lining black
How to use Hand wash only. Do not tumble dry.
Produced by Paul Bristow

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