Changing Perceptions of Marcolf the Trickster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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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