The Bibliomaniac from 'The Ship of Fools'
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Just at the close of the century we find the first humorous conception of German artists in the illustrations of the Navis Stultifera (Ship of Fools), written by Sebastian Brandt and printed at Basel in 1497. This very bold and original work had an immense success and was frequently reprinted. Every page is adorned with the antics of clowns and men in fools' caps and bells, in caricature of some absurdity, and the bibliomaniac is not spared: "I have the first place among fools," he is made to say; "I have heaps of books which I rarely open. If I read them I forget them and am no wiser." As will be seen by the cut, though the perspective of the draughtsman is not to be praised, the work of the engraver is excellent; the fineness of the lines is new to us and the shadows are well treated. Notice also the bindings of the books, with their bosses, hinges, and clasps; nearly all are folios, and four or five are ornamented with the same pattern. The decoration at the side is evidently copied from an illuminated manuscript. With this book we may fitly close our notice of German wood-engraving of the fifteenth century."--A Brief History of Wood-engraving from its Invention (1895) by Joseph Cundall