art, political artist, poverty

Political Artist (40b): Hieronymus Bosch, The Ship of Fools

Hieronymus Bosch, The Ship of Fools

Hieronymus Bosch, The Ship of Fools

The Ship of Fools (painted c. 1490–1500) is intended to exemplify the human condition. Representatives of the whole of mankind are voyaging through the seas of time. Every one of them is a fool: eating and drinking too much, flirting and cheating, playing silly games, and we don’t look at the poor who fell out of the ship and are now begging for some crumbs. The ship drifts aimlessly and we never reach the harbour. (By the way, the scene where four fools try to eat a hanging pancake without using their hands is based on a folk custom).

According to Foucault, the painting also represents the view that “madmen” should be deported overseas. Madness was often equated with poverty, the incapacity to work and the inability to integrate in the group. In England, it was feared that the country could be overrun by the poor, and it was proposed that they be banished and deported to the colonies.

More political artists here.

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