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The Blind Leading the Blind

c. 1551-1570
Pieter van der Heyden (Flemish, c. 1530–after 1572) In the manner of Hieronymus Bosch (Netherlandish, c. 1450–1516)

This illustration of a parable about spiritual blindness and poor religious guidance is accompanied by texts in Latin and French. While Latin was the language of the educated classes throughout Europe, French was widely spoken in the southern Netherlands (modern-day Belgium), suggesting that this print was intended for both learned and popular audiences.

The Latin text reads: “The blind man offers himself as guide to another blind man; it is lamentable that this happens so often nowadays. But what awaits them? What? Save only, ignorant of the way by which one is given to reach an intended destination, will they end up tumbling into an open ditch?”

The French text reads: “See how the unfortunate blind man finally fares. He who foolishly trusts another blind man goes unsteadily, no matter how heavily he leans on and holds tight to his man. Thus mismatched, both he and his escort fall into the ditch.”

Object Details

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