Two Fools – The Folly of Love


Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550), an engraving after Beham’s Two Fools (or Fool and Foolish Woman), engraving, c 1540, a copy or impression in reverse of Pauli 215, Bartsch 213, the copy after the first state. In excellent condition, trimmed on or just outside or inside the plate mark, on old laid paper, numerous notes in pencil verso, 1 15/16 x 2 1/16 inches.

A brilliant impression of this famous image, after the Beham composition.

The subject matter for this print was addressed by numerous artists in the 15th and 16th centuries.  In this rendering the allusions refer to the folly of love. For example, the man holds what was known as the “fool’s stick”, an instrument with obvious phallic references. The woman rests her hand on a vessel, a reference to female sexuality.  The man holds a flagon of wine – wine drinking was at the time a metaphor for love-making.  Many prints of the time show flies or dragonflies flying around a lover’s head in association with love; here three dragon flies circle the man, but another is aiming toward the woman.