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ILLUSTRATIONS

A special feature of Praise of Folly are the numerous illustrations which it has elicited over the centuries. Generally, illustrations are very rare in Erasmus's books. For Praise of Folly, the exceptional tradition started with the famous artist Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543). When he was still a pupil living at Basel, his Latin teacher asked him to make drawings to the text in the margins of his private copy of Praise of Folly. This copy still exists, it is treasured in Basel University Library. For many years, Holbein's drawings remained a well kept secret. But in 1676 they were first printed as engravings in a Basel edition of Praise of Folly. From then onwards, it seems that hardly any edition of Erasmus's bestseller appeared without Holbein's drawings. Many modern artists, too, have been inspired by Holbein's example, illustrating the text in their own styles. Rotterdam City Library's online Erasmus Treasury exhibits many examples.

 

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