Changing Perceptions of Marcolf the Trickster

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Marcolf appears in medieval folk tales across Europe as the sly peasant able to outwit wise King Solomon. During the course of the sixteenth century, the amusing anti-hero turning the world upside-down is increasingly cast in a negative light in both text and image. This shift is traced here through a comparison of two prints produced in Augsburg in the 1520s and 30s that show a grotesquely disfigured Marcolf and his wife Bolikana engaged in a raucous dance. While Hans Weiditz’s woodcut invites urban viewers to laugh at these peasant others, Daniel Hopfer’s etching is more ambiguous in tone.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian & New Zealand Journal of Art
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


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