30 March 2010

Cap and Bells: The Journey of the Fool

The jester walked in the garden:
The garden had fallen still;
He bade his soul rise upward
And stand on her windowsill.

In the Tarot deck The Fool is often depicted on a journey wearing rags with only a knapsack happily unaware of the cliff he is about to fall off. Jacquemin Gringonneur’s fourteen-century deck for Charles VI shows a jester who although he has lost his pants and is being teased by children is still smiling. The Fool card urges us to follow our dreams despite our fears. Frans Hals (1580 –1666) the Dutch Baroque artist painted the fool as a court entertainer in Jester with a Lute. In the 1955 movie The Court Jester, Danny Kaye plays a hapless medieval performer “A jester unemployed is nobody's fool”. The fool continued to amuse us in the form of the Italian Harlequin whose motley costume is reminiscent of rags as in Paul Cézanne’s painting Harlequin of 1888.

I've cap and bells,' he pondered,
'I will send them to her and die.'
And as soon as the morn had whitened
He left them where she went by.
W.B. Yeats


  1. I have become quite sensitive in my old age. Due to your exhibition and brief comments, my Jungian soul, returns again and again. These are my pieces:The dark side of the Jester is the beginning of wisdom, not the smart kind of wisdom.... Yesterday we went to the Little Mermaid, and there we were, staring at The Shadow Figures, of Grimm, and Anderson, and Stevenson, and then at the end, behaviors of immense kindness finishes the round.

  2. Thank you Anon for your insights. Kendra

  3. I love the patterned figure of harlequins and I own a few vintage artworks that feature them.
    (As an aside, what is that first one wearing?) :)

  4. Thank you Bluehaunt, Many of the early fools in Tarot cards have lost their pants while retaining some of their upper clothes. What could this mean? :) Kendra

  5. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=318552654845052&set=a.144061588960827.18759.100000709611853&type=3&theater

  6. The Saint and Her Fool

    She appears in the evening, young and lovely,
    Tracing the very edge of a womanhood
    That she will never know.
    She glides among the trees, singing a silent
    Vespers to the stars, and sighing love
    And praise to her lord and God.
    Dressed in white robes, soft sandals
    Bind her feet and keep them
    From the sharp and thorny ground.
    She weeps for every fallen leaf
    And tenderly gathers roses for her room,
    Where altar lights and triptychs gaze
    At all her virgin mysteries within.

    Hidden in a tree, he gazes down
    In longing for a love forever banned
    In motley red and blue with
    Golden bells that softly chime.
    She never hears or looks away
    From her self-contained holy duties.
    Later, he plays and mocks the great
    With an aching heart
    Across a polished floor.
    He only knows the earth and what it is;
    Through all it seems to be.
    And in his cold and barren little room
    His hot tears wash the painted grin away.

    Christine Natale


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