With Engravings after Drawings by Holbein

Erasmus, Desiderius (ca.1466-1536); Holbein, Hans, the Younger (1497-1543)

ΜΩΡΙΑΣ ΕΓΚΩΜΙΟΝ. Stultitiæ Laus. Des. Erasmi Rot. Declamatio, Cum commentariis Ger. Listrii, & figuris Jo. Holbenii. E codice Academiæ Basiliensis. Accedunt.

Basel: Typis Genathianis, 1676


Octavo: 18 x 11.25 cm. a-e8 (a1 = engraved title); A-Y8 (leaves Y7 and Y8 blank)


With an engraved title by Kaspar Merian after Holbein, printer’s device, 3 full-page engraved portraits after Holbein (1 of Erasmus and 2 of Holbein), engraved memorial stone, and 81 text illustrations, of which 6 are folding, by Merian after Holbein. A fine copy in contemporary vellum. 

The first illustrated edition of "In Praise of Folly", with commentary by G. Listrius and engravings by Hans Holbein, edited by Charles Patin. The illustrations are after those made by Holbein (and a few by his brother Ambrosius) in 1516 in the margins of a 1515 edition of the present work originally owned by Holbein's (and Erasmus') associate Oswald Myconius (1488-1552).

"Holbein’s earliest surviving work appears to be drawings in the margins of a copy of the second edition of Erasmus’ Moriae Encomium that belonged to the humanist and schoolmaster Oswald Myconius, originally Geisshüsler (1488-1552). The majority of these can be confidently attributed to Holbein, and only a few are by his brother, Ambrosius. According to Myconius’ inscription on the first page, all the drawings were done in ten days at the end of 1515 and the beginning of 1516. By one of these, that of ‘Erasmus at work writing the Adages,’ Myconius has noted that when Erasmus saw this drawing he said, "Aha, aha, if Erasmus now looked like that he would immediately take a wife.’ It may be that this prompted in reply the marginal drawing, ‘The Man [perhaps Erasmus] distracted by the Pretty Woman steps on the Egg-seller’s Basket,’ which seems plausible in that this drawing is unrelated to the text." (See the article "Hans Holbein" in "Contemporaries of Erasmus", vol. 2, p. 195)

"The ‘Moriae Encomium’ is most certainly Erasmus’ greatest and most enduring work, a brilliant paradoxical declamation on two subtly blended themes, ‘that of salutary folly, which is true wisdom, and that of deluded wisdom, which is pure folly.’ Written in 1509 as a visitor’s gift to Thomas More, whose name—Morus—was so aptly similar to the Greek ‘moros’, folly, the ‘Moriae Encomium’ asserts that man can never be happy unless a fool, and that wisdom will be his downfall. Erasmus, speaking through the vehicle of his narrator, Folly, explains that ‘there is no society, no union in life that could be happy or lasting without me. A people will not long bear with its prince, nor a master his servant, nor a maid her mistress… unless they make mistakes together or individually, flatter each other, wisely overlook things, and soothe themselves with the sweetness of folly.’" (Dolan)

This edition includes Erasmus' original preface (and a letter) to More, a life of Erasmus, a life of Holbein, a bibliography of Erasmus, and an account of Holbein's works, and more.

Van der Haeghen I, 125; Graesse vol. ii, page 495; Brunet II, 1037