The Cardinal, a fool?

Reversible figure of voppart and fool

Unknown German artist
Around 1525
Colored woodcut
Foundation Schloss Friedenstein Gotha

The ambiguity of this pamphlet becomes obvious if it is turned on its head. The cardinal, who can be recognized by his red hat, then becomes a fraudster, a fool. If you turn it again, the fool metamorphoses into the cardinal again.

Vexierbild Voppart und Narr
turn around

The pope, mocked and insulted

The Pope as the Animal of the Apocalypse

A bible illustration shows a monster wearing the tiara, the papal crown. The Pope is thus reviled as the Antichrist.

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The Pope riding on a sowt

On his open palm, he carries a pile of excrement. The sow stands for the German participants of the Council of 1545. The Protestants refused to participate.

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The Pope as an ass

An ass wearing the papal crown is playing on a bagpipe. Since an ass is not capable of playing an instrument, the same is true, in analogy, for the Pope’s theological statements.

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Demons crowning the Pope

In ridicule of his intelligence, the Pope is portrayed with ass’s ears under the tiara.

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Credits

Research

Robert Kluth

Graphic

Jakub ChrobokChristophorus Halsch

References

Eydinger, Ulrike: unbekannter deutscher Künstler Vexierbild Voppart und Narr, in: Martin Luther. Treasures of the Reformation/Martin Luther Schätze der Reformation, hrsg. v. Harald Meller/Colin B. Bailey/Martin Eberle/u. a., Dresden, 2016, Nr. 343.Fliegende Blätter. Die Sammlung der Einblattholzschnitte des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts in der Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha, hrsg. v. Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha, 2 Bände, Stuttgart, 2016.Robert W. Scribner: For the sake of simple folk: popular propaganda for the German reformation, Cambridge, 1981.