Theodor de Bry

Head of Folly (Duke of Alva)

1558
Mostly known for his numerous sheets of engraved ornaments used extensively by goldsmiths of the first half of the seventeenth century, De Bry seems to have intended this circular design as a decoration for a tazza, a shallow ornamental vessel usually resting on a pedestal. The image presents the Duke of Alva in a roundel as Commander of Folly, a dishonourable title denoted by the upside-down head of a jester found on the Duke’s chest. A round band of dense decorations with scatological details and hybrid creatures in ungainly poses further illustrates the notion of Folly.
Title
Head of Folly (Duke of Alva)
Date
1558
Medium
Print
Materials
engraving on laid paper
Dimensions
12.1 cm diameter
Nationality
Flemish; German
Credit line
Purchased 1922
Accession number
2049