Satirizing the Sacred: Humor in Saint Joseph’s Veneration and Early Modern Art

This essay reveals humor’s centrality and function in depictions of Saint Joseph from the fourteenth through the early sixteenth centuries, and it reconciles two strands of interpretation that have polarized the saint’s image into distinct early and late manifestations—one comical and derogatory and the other idealized. This faulty division is rooted in our misunderstandings of the reasoning behind—and the functions of—late medieval religious humor. Arguing for the influence of contemporary and earlier medieval satirical treatments of the fool, peasant, and unequal couple, as well as the role of laughter in veneration, the following offers an alternative to the theory of education as the sole explanation for humor’s presence in religious imagery. It encourages a more nuanced understanding of images used for private and public veneration, acknowledging not only the presence but also the purpose of visual jokes in such works.

DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2018.10.1.3

Acknowledgements

I wish to thank Larry Goedde, Lisa Reilly, Paul Barolsky, and William McDonald at the University of Virginia for supporting this project from the very beginning. Along the way, I have benefited from the invaluable insights of Dr. Ulrike Heinrichs at the Universität Paderborn and Dr. Erin Campbell at the University of Victoria, as well as the support of the German-American Fulbright Commission, the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria. I am deeply grateful to Dagmar Eichberger, Alison Kettering, and my anonymous reviewers and readers.

Conrad von Soest;  Nativity;  detail of the Wildunger Altar; 1403;  tempera on wood;  188 x 152 cm.;  Bad Wildungen, Germany, Evangelische Stadtkirche
Fig. 1 Conrad von Soest, Nativity, detail of the Wildunger Altar, 1403, tempera on wood, 188 x 152 cm. Bad Wildungen, Germany, Evangelische Stadtkirche.
Mosan/South Netherlandish artist;  Flight into Egypt;  detail of a tabernacle;  ca. 1395–1400;  tempera on gilded oak;  137 x 47.5 cm (overall).;  Antwerp, Mayer van den Bergh Museum;  inv. MMB.0002
Fig. 2 Mosan/South Netherlandish artist, Flight into Egypt, detail of a tabernacle, ca. 1395–1400, tempera on gilded oak, 137 x 47.5 cm (overall). Antwerp, Mayer van den Bergh Museum, inv. MMB.0002, courtesy of the Mayer van den Bergh Museum, Antwerp (artwork in the public domain)
Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece;  Adoration of the Magi; detail;  ca. 1500;  oil on panel;  80.3 x 65.7 cm (overall).;  Munich, Alte Pinakothek;  inv. 10651
Fig. 3 Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece, Adoration of the Magi (detail), ca. 1500, oil on panel, 80.3 x 65.7 cm (overall). Munich, Alte Pinakothek, inv. 10651 (artwork in the public domain)
Meister Bertram von Minden;  Rest on the Flight into Egypt;  detail of the Petri-Altar (Grabow Altar);  1379–83;  tempera on oak;  266 x 726 cm (overall).;  Hamburg, Kunsthalle;  inv. H-K 500
Fig. 4 Meister Bertram von Minden, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, detail of the Petri-Altar (Grabow Altar), 1379–83, tempera on oak, 266 x 726 cm (overall). Hamburg, Kunsthalle, inv. H-K 500 (artwork in the public domain)
Boucicaut Master and Workshop;  Adoration of the Magi;  miniature from a Book of Hours;  ca. 1415–20;  tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment;  20.5 x 14.8 cm (leaf).;   Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum;  inv. 86.ML.571.72 (Ms 22, fol. 72)
Fig. 5 Boucicaut Master and Workshop, Adoration of the Magi, miniature from a Book of Hours, ca. 1415–20, tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment, 20.5 x 14.8 cm (leaf). Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, inv. 86.ML.571.72 (Ms 22, fol. 72) (artwork in the public domain)
Württembergisch-Franken artist;  Adoration of the Magi;  detail of an altarpiece;  ca. 1525;  limewood.; Würzburg, Mainfränkisches Museum
Fig. 6 Württembergisch-Franken artist, Adoration of the Magi, detail of an altarpiece, ca. 1525, limewood.Würzburg, Mainfränkisches Museum (artwork in the public domain)
Master of the Legend of Saint Barbara (active in Brussels, 1470–1500);  Adoration of the Magi;  detail of central panel of a triptych;  ca. 1480;  oil on oak;  90.7 x 96.7 cm.;  Rome, Galleria Colonna;  inv. 234
Fig. 7 Master of the Legend of Saint Barbara (active in Brussels, 1470–1500), Adoration of the Magi, detail of central panel of a triptych, ca. 1480, oil on oak, 90.7 x 96.7 cm. Rome, Galleria Colonna, inv. 234 (artwork in the public domain)
Veit Stoss;  Flight into Egypt;  detail of the Bamberg Altar;  ca. 1520;  limewood;  Bamberg Cathedral
Fig. 8 Veit Stoss, Flight into Egypt, detail of the Bamberg Altar, ca. 1520, limewood. Bamberg Cathedral
Meister Bertram von Minden and workshop;  Nativity;  detail of the high altar from the Petri-Kirche in Buxtehude;  ca. 1410;  tempera on oak;  108.5 x 93 cm.;  Hamburg, Kunsthalle;  inv. H-K 501 c
Fig. 9 Meister Bertram von Minden and workshop, Nativity, detail of the high altar from the Petri-Kirche in Buxtehude, ca. 1410, tempera on oak, 108.5 x 93 cm. Hamburg, Kunsthalle, inv. H-K 501 c (artwork in the public domain)
German School (Cologne);  Rest on the Flight into Egypt (after Martin Schongauer);  ca. 1500;  oil on panel;  88.7 x 78 cm.;  London, The Courtauld Gallery, The Samuel Courtauld Trust;  inv. P.1947.LF.68
Fig. 10 German School (Cologne), Rest on the Flight into Egypt (after Martin Schongauer), ca. 1500, oil on panel, 88.7 x 78 cm. London, The Courtauld Gallery, The Samuel Courtauld Trust, inv. P.1947.LF.68 (artwork in the public domain; photo © Courtauld Gallery, London)
Urs Graf;  Lustful Old Fool and Woman with Baby: Allegory of Fiddling;  early 16th century;  drawing.;  Basel, Offentliche Kunstsammlung, Kupferstichkabinett;  inv. U.X. 108
Fig. 11 Urs Graf, Lustful Old Fool and Woman with Baby: Allegory of Fiddling, early 16th century, drawing. Basel, Offentliche Kunstsammlung, Kupferstichkabinett, inv. U.X. 108 (artwork in the public domain)
Mosan/Netherlandish artist;  Nativity, panel of the Antwerp-Baltimore Polyptych of Philip the Bold;  panel of the Antwerp-Baltimore Polyptych of Philip the Bold;  ca. 1400;  tempera and gold leaf on wood;  33 x 21 cm.;  Antwerp, Mayer van den Bergh Museum;  inv. MMB.0001.1-2
Fig. 12 Mosan/Netherlandish artist, Nativity, panel of the Antwerp-Baltimore Polyptych of Philip the Bold, ca. 1400, tempera and gold leaf on wood, 33 x 21 cm. Antwerp, Mayer van den Bergh Museum, inv. MMB.0001.1-2, courtesy of the Mayer van den Bergh Museum, Antwerp.  (artwork in the public domain)
Israhel van Meckenem;   The Ill-Matched Couple (after the Housebook Master);  ca. 1480–90;  engraving;  15.5 x 17.4 cm.;   New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art;  Gift of M. Feltenstein, 2015, inv. 2015.703
Fig. 13 Israhel van Meckenem, The Ill-Matched Couple (after the Housebook Master), ca. 1480–90, engraving, 15.5 x 17.4 cm. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of M. Feltenstein, 2015, inv. 2015.703 (artwork in the public domain; photo © Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Limbourg Brothers;  January, miniature from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry;  before 1416;  tempera on vellum;  22.5 cm x 13.6 cm.;  Chantilly, Musée Condé;  Ms 65, fol. 1v
Fig. 14 Limbourg Brothers, January, miniature from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, before 1416, tempera on vellum, 22.5 cm x 13.6 cm. Chantilly, Musée Condé, Ms 65, fol. 1v (artwork in the public domain)
Artist unknown;  Joseph's Repentance of His Doubt, (copy after Robert Campin, The Life of Saint Joseph,  ca. 1425, now lost);  oil on panel;  64 x 203 cm;  Hoogstraten, Belgium, Saint Katarinakerk
Fig. 15 Artist unknown, Joseph's Repentance of His Doubt, oil on panel, 64 x 203 cm (copy after Robert Campin, The Life of Saint Joseph, ca. 1425, now lost). Hoogstraten, Belgium, Saint Katarinakerk
Master of the Little Garden of Paradise and his workshop;  The Doubt of Joseph, (from the hospice of Saint-Marc, Strasbourg);  ca. 1430;  oil on pine panel;  114 x 114 cm;  Strasbourg, Musée de l'Oeuvre Notre Dame;  on loan from the Hospices Civils de Strasbourg, inv. MBA 1482
Fig. 16 Master of the Little Garden of Paradise and his workshop, The Doubt of Joseph, ca. 1430, oil on pine panel, 114 x 114 cm (from the hospice of Saint-Marc, Strasbourg). Strasbourg, Musée de l'Oeuvre Notre Dame, on loan from the Hospices Civils de Strasbourg, inv. MBA 1482 (artwork in the public domain; photo: courtesy of the Musées de Strasbourg, M. Bertola).
Israhel van Meckenem;  The Visit to the Spinner, from Scenes of Daily Life;  ca. 1495/1503. Washington;  engraving;  16.2 x 11.1 cm;  D.C., The National Gallery of Art;  Rosenwald Collection, inv. 1953.4.1
Fig. 17 Israhel van Meckenem, The Visit to the Spinner, engraving, 16.2 x 11.1 cm, from Scenes of Daily Life, ca. 1495/1503. Washington, D.C., The National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald Collection, inv. 1953.4.1 (artwork in the public domain)
Master of the Little Garden of Paradise (also known as the Upper Rhenish Master);  The Little Garden of Paradise;  ca. 1410–20;  tempera on oak;  26.3 x 33.4 cm;  Frankfurt, Städel Museum;  on loan from the Historisches Museum Frankfurt, inv. HM 54
Fig. 18 Master of the Little Garden of Paradise (also known as the Upper Rhenish Master), The Little Garden of Paradise, ca. 1410–20, tempera on oak, 26.3 x 33.4 cm. Frankfurt, Städel Museum, on loan from the Historisches Museum Frankfurt, inv. HM 54 (artwork in the public domain)
Master of the Hours of Catherine of Cleves;  Holy Family at Supper, miniature from the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves;  ca. 1440;  tempera on vellum;  19.2 x 13 cm;  New York, Morgan Library and Museum;  Ms M.927, pp. 150–51
Fig. 19 Master of the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, Holy Family at Supper, miniature from the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves, ca. 1440, tempera on vellum, 19.2 x 13 cm. New York, Morgan Library and Museum, Ms M.927, pp. 150–51 (artwork in the public domain; photo: courtesy of IAP/Artstor)
Hieronymus Bosch;   Adoration of the Magi (detail of Joseph drying diapers);  ca. 1494;  grisaille and oil on oak;  147.4 x 168.6 cm;  Madrid, Prado Museum;  inv. P02048
Fig. 20 Hieronymus Bosch, Adoration of the Magi (detail of Joseph drying diapers), ca. 1494, grisaille and oil on oak, 147.4 x 168.6 cm. Madrid, Prado Museum, inv. P02048 (artwork in the public domain)
Israhel van Meckenem;  Henpecked Husband; 1480;  engraving;  9.7 x 10.1 cm;  Lehrs 649.
Fig. 21 Israhel van Meckenem, Henpecked Husband, 1480, engraving, 9.7 x 10.1 cm. Lehrs 649.
Jean Pucelle (French, active Paris);  Betrayal of Christ and the Annunciation, miniature from the Book of Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux;  1324–28; Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects;  grisaille, tempera, and ink on vellum;  9.2 x 6.2 cm (single folio);  New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters;  inv. 54.1.2
Fig. 22 Jean Pucelle (French, active Paris), Betrayal of Christ and the Annunciation, miniature from the Book of Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux, 1324–28, grisaille, tempera, and ink on vellum, 9.2 x 6.2 cm (single folio). New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters, inv. 54.1.2, (artwork in the public domain; photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
South Netherlandish, Workshop of Robert Campin;  Annunciation Triptych (Mérode Altarpiece);   ca. 1425–32;  oil on oak;  64.5 x 117.8 cm (overall);  New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection, 1956;  inv. 56.70a-c
Fig. 23 South Netherlandish, Workshop of Robert Campin, Annunciation Triptych (Mérode Altarpiece), ca. 1425–32, oil on oak, 64.5 x 117.8 cm (overall). New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection, 1956, inv. 56.70a-c (artwork in the public domain; photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
  1. 1. For this article’s purposes, the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance are categorized as “early modern.”

  2. 2. Erwin Panofsky, Studies in Iconology: Humanistic Themes in the Art of the Renaissance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1939); Erwin Panofsky, “Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait,” Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 64, no. 372 (March 1934): 117–27.

  3. 3. “Popular” culture in the sense not only of that associated with the “lower” classes, but the culture of the many who do not belong to the highest political or religious leadership; see Gerhard Jaritz, “Bildquellen zur mittelalterlichen Volksfrömmigkeit,” in Volksreligion im hohen und späten Mittelalter, ed. Peter Dinzelbacher and Dieter R. Bauer (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1990), 206; Norbert Schindler, “Spuren in die Geschichte der ‘anderen’ Zivilisation: Probleme und Perspektiven einer historischen Volkskulturforschung,” in Volkskultur: Zur Wiederentdeckung des vergessenen Alltags (16.-20. Jahrhundert), ed. Richard van Dülmen and Norbert Schindler (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch, 1984), 23–24, 53, 74–77; Peter Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (New York: Harper and Row, 1978), xi.

  4. 4. Louis Réau, “Joseph,” Iconographie des saints, vol. 3, pt. 2, of Iconographie de l’art chrétien (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1958), 752–55; Johan Huizinga, The Autumn of the Middle Ages (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 168; Teresa Rodrigues, ed., Butler’s Lives of the Saints: New Full Edition, vol. 3 (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1993), 185–86; Marjory Bolgar Foster, “The Iconography of St. Joseph in Netherlandish Art, 1400–1550,” (PhD diss., University of Kansas, 1978), 249; Max J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting (New York: Praeger, 1967), 2: pl. 103, no. 82.

  5. 5. Huizinga, The Autumn of the Middle Ages, 168.

  6. 6. Réau, “Joseph,” 754.

  7. 7. Palémon Glorieux, “Saint Joseph dans l’oeuvre de Gerson,” Cahiers de Joséphologie 19 (1971): 423–25; Carolyn C. Wilson, St. Joseph in Italian Renaissance Society and Art: New Directions and Interpretations (Philadelphia: Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2001), 46.

  8. 8. Rosemary Drage Hale, “Joseph as Mother: Adaptation and Appropriation in the Construction of Male Virtue,” in Medieval Mothering, ed. John Carmi Parsons and Bonnie Wheeler (New York: Garland Publishing, 1996), 104; Francis Lad Filas, Joseph: The Man Closest to Jesus (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1962), 495.

  9. 9. Bernard of Clairvaux, Laudibus virginis Mariae, 63–64.

  10. 10. Réau, “Joseph,” 752–55.

  11. 11. Rodrigues, ed., Butler’s Lives of the Saints, 185–86.

  12. 12. Joseph Dusserre, Les origines de la dévotion à Saint Joseph: Cahiers de Joséphologie (Montreal, 1953–54), 1: 23–54, 169–96; 2: 5–30; C. A., “Le développement historique du Culte de Saint Joseph,” Revue Bénédictine 14, nos. 1–4 (1897): 104–14. Modern-day theologians like Joseph F. Chorpenning, O.S.F.S., and historians like Paul Payan have unveiled the theological discourse underlying Joseph’s rise in the eyes of the Catholic Church before the official introduction of his feast in the late fifteenth century. Before the work of these scholars, our understanding of Joseph’s history rested upon a pre-sixteenth century image of the saint who is mostly derided for his age, simplicity, and care for a child by his wife that is most certainly not his own. Paul Payan, Joseph: Une image de la paternité dans l’Occident medieval (Lonrai: Aubier, 2006); Paul Payan, “Ridicule? L’image ambiguë de saint Joseph à la fin du Moyen Âge,” Médiévales 39 (2000): 96–111, https://doi.org/10.3406/medi.2000.1497; Joseph F. Chorpenning, O.S.F.S., Joseph of Nazareth through the Centuries (Philadelphia: Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2011).

  13. 13. Wilson, St. Joseph in Italian Renaissance Society and Art, 95.

  14. 14. Wilson, St. Joseph in Italian Renaissance Society and Art, 66.

  15. 15. Sheila Schwartz, “The Iconography of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt,” (PhD diss., New York University, Institute of Fine Arts, 1975), 65.

  16. 16. Schwartz, “The Iconography of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt,” 66.

  17. 17. Schwartz, “The Iconography of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt,” 84.

  18. 18. Ursula Demand et al., Kleiner Weg-Weiser durch die Domschatzkammer Aachen (Aachen: Domkapital zu Aachen, 1995), 42.

  19. 19. Josef de Coo’s 1965 article on Joseph’s Hosen in painting, pilgrim medallions, and literature exposes the relic’s significance for late medieval pilgrims and the devout of Western Europe. Josef de Coo, “In Josephs Hosen Jhesus ghewonden wert: Ein Weihnachtsmotiv in Literatur und Kunst,” Aachener Kunstblätter 30 (1965): 144–84.

  20. 20. Louise Berthold, “Die Kindelwiegenspiele,” Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur 56 (1932): 209. The existing manuscripts classified as Kindelwiegenspiele are the Ludus in cunabilis Christi of the Erlauer Spiele from Kärnten (Gmünd, early fifteenth century), the Hessische Weihnachtsspiel, of Friedberg, dated between 1450 and 1460, and the Sterzinger Weihnachtsspiel of 1511 (Bozen, South Tyrol), written by Vigil Raber. Eckehard Simon added the Schwäbische Weihnachtsspiel to Berthold’s category. See Eckehard Simon, “Das schwäbische Weihnachtsspiel: Ein neu entdecktes Weihnachtsspiel aus der Zeit 1417–1431,” Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie 94 (1975): 45.

  21. 21. Stephen K. Wright, “Joseph as Mother, Jutta as Pope: Gender and Transgression in Medieval German Drama,” Theatre Journal 51, no. 2 (May 1999): 149–66; Rosemary Drage Hale, “Joseph as Mother,” 101–16; Pamela Sheingorn, “The Maternal Behavior of God: Divine Father as Fantasy Husband,” in Medieval Mothering, ed. John Carmi Parsons and Bonnie Wheeler (New York: Garland Publishing, 1996), 77–100.

  22. 22. Was wiltu, alder zegenbart?” Hessisches Weihnachtsspiel, line 615. For the text, see Richard Froning, ed., Das Drama des Mittelalters (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1964), 902–39.

  23. 23. Hessische Weihnachtsspiel, lines 648–715; Martin Walsh, “Breikocher Josef: The Medieval Origins of a Grotesque Comic Motif in the German Christmas Play” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the Société Internationale pour l’étude du théâtre médiéval, Elx, 2004). http://www.medievalists.net/2010/12/22/breikocher-josef-the-medieval-origins-of-a-grotesque-comic-motif-in-the-german-christmas-play/ (accessed February 10, 2011).

  24. 24. Walsh, “Breikocher Josef.”

  25. 25. Wright, “Joseph as Mother, Jutta as Pope,” 158.

  26. 26. Craig Harbison, “Iconography and Iconology,” in Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception, and Research, ed. Bernhard Ridderbos, Anne van Buren, and Hank van Veen (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005), 380; Sixten Ringbom, From Icon to Narrative: The Rise of the Dramatic Close-up in Fifteenth-century Devotional Painting (Doornspijk: Davaco, 1984), 50–51.

  27. 27. James H. Marrow, “Symbol and Meaning in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance.” Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art 16, no. 2/3 (1986): 150–69.

  28. 28. Marrow, “Symbol and Meaning,” 161.

  29. 29. Ringbom, From Icon to Narrative, 12.

  30. 30. Carol J. Purtle, The Marian Paintings of Jan van Eyck (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), xv. For a summary of this debate and its implications, see Reindert Falkenburg, “The Household of the Soul: Conformity in the Mérode Triptych,” in Early Netherlandish Painting at the Crossroads: A Critical Look at Current Methodologies, ed. Maryan Ainsworth (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001), 2–17.

  31. 31. Harbison, “Iconography and Iconology,” 401; Jacques Toussaert, Le sentiment religieux en Flandre à la fin du Moyen-Âge (Paris: Plon, 1963).

  32. 32. As the type of the rustic, or vilain, peasants represented the base and the ridiculous. In a fourteenth-century short poem by Jean de de Condé, entitled “Des Vilains et des Courtois,” the rustic epitomizes how not to act, in clear contrast with the virtuous, chivalric knight. See Paul Freedman, Images of the Medieval Peasant (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999), 133; Stanley Leman Galpin, “Cortois and Vilain: A Study of the Distinctions Made between Them by the French and Provençal Poets of the Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Centuries” (PhD diss., Yale University, 1905), 8–9. Further studies of literary treatments of peasants include Fritz Martini, Das Bauerntum im deutschen Schrifttum von den Anfängen bis zum 16. Jahrhundert (Haale, Germany: M. Niemeyer, 1944), 41–102, 135–213; Hilde Hügli, Der deutsche Bauer im Mittelalter dargestellt nach den deutschen literarischen Quellen vom 11.–15. Jahrhundert (1929; reprint, Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus, 1970); Heide Wunder, “Der dumme und der schlaue Bauer,” in Mentalität und Alltag im Spätmittelalter, ed. Cord Meckseper (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1985), 34–51; G. G. Coulton, The Medieval Village (Cambridge, 1925; reprint, New York: Dover, 1989), 231–52.

  33. 33. Freedman, Images of the Medieval Peasant, 139.

  34. 34. Freedman, Images of the Medieval Peasant, 140.

  35. 35. A prime example of such humor exists in the German Heinrich Wittenwiler’s poem “Der Ring,” written ca. 1400, which tells the story of the peasant wedding of Betsy Wagglebottom and Berty Dripnose, whose manners, ugliness, and vulgarity are even more amusing because of their attempts to imitate chivalric behavior. See George Fenwick Jones, Wittenwiler’s Ring and the Anonymous Scots Poem Colkelbie Sow (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1956); Keith P. F. Moxey, “Sebald Beham’s Church Anniversary Holidays: Festive Peasants as Instruments of Repressive Humor,” Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art 12, no. 2/3 (1981–82), 127, https://doi.org/10.2307/3780596.

  36. 36. The increasing ridicule of the peasant in art and literature from the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries is a trend that Walter French ascribes to a greater contrast between city and country than in the earlier Middle Ages. During the high medieval period, the view of rusticity was more frequently also a pleasant one, with poets like Neidhart von Reuental (ca. 1190–1236/37) and Tannhäuser (d. after 1265) contrasting the joys of a natural life in the country with the affectation of courtly life. Increasing hostility toward the peasantry appeared in the manner books of the thirteenth century, which attempted to safely distance the aristocracy and upper classes from the lower classes, particularly by ridiculing the latter’s behavior through drawing parallels with the behavior of the beasts with which they lived and worked. The bliss of uninhibited country life and the satisfying “otherness” of the peasantry for the more elevated elites appeared in a number of fourteenth-century courtly commissions that depict buffoonish peasants laboring or behaving like beasts and fools while nobles leisurely move about their land. See Walter French, “Kulturgeschichtliches in the Fastnachtspiele of Hans Sachs” (PhD diss., Ohio State University, 1918), 15. The popularity of the peasant in chivalric poetry developed particularly into a means of parodying courtly ideals. Humor in the peasant genre was characterized in earlier medieval literature and art by a kind of “double-edged sword . . . while on the one hand mocking aristocratic cultural institutions such as love service, tournaments and feasts, it offered the reader or listener a vicious satire of uncouth manners and obscene sexual conduct attributed to the peasantry.” Moxey, “Sebald Beham’s Church Anniversary Holidays,” 127.

  37. 37. Walter French describes Sachs as one who adopts the viewpoint of the casual observer of the common man, while simultaneously leading the audience to a thoughtful, idealistic conclusion. Ridicule and play frequently appeared in such comic literature and art in “satiro-didactic” form, but it is equally possible that sometimes there was no intended underlying idealism or moral, only a simple desire to arouse laughter, an act that has a function in and of itself. French, “Kulturgeschichtliches in the Fastnachtspiele of Hans Sachs,” 15–35; Moxey, “Sebald Beham’s Church Anniversary Holidays,” 128. Carnival behavior itself also merged the human with the animal. The costumes worn by carnival revelers were frequently of animals, peasants, and devils, and it is these three types that Eckehard Simon most closely associates with the bawdy spirit of carnival. In one carnival play, “Dame Shrovetide” is accused of “turning people into animals: foolish calves, apes, jackasses, and pigs . . . when people disguised themselves as animals, it is likely that they also behaved in the lewd ways that the medieval mind associated with beasts.” Eckehard Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” in Obscenity: Social Control and Artistic Creation in the European Middle Ages, ed. Jan M. Ziolkowski (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 202; see also Alison Stewart, Before Bruegel: Sebald Beham and the Origins of Peasant Festival Imagery (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2008). Sebastian Franck writes that “some crawl on all fours like animals/ others sit on eggs hatching fools.” Sebastian Franck, Weltbuoch: Spiegel und bildtniss des gantzen erdtbodens von Sebastiano Franco Wördensi in vier bücher (Tübingen, 1534), fol. 131r.

  38. 38. Christa Grössinger, Humour and Folly in Secular and Profane Prints of Northern Europe, 1430–1540 (London: Harvey Miller, 2002), 101.

  39. 39. Jörg Wickram, Das Rollwagenbüchlein, LXIII [Strassburg, 1555]; see Heinrich Kurz, ed., Jörg Wickram’s Das Rollwagenbüchlein (Leipzig: J. J. Weber, 1865), 114–15.

  40. 40. The ambiguous object is perhaps a piece of bread, but the presence of the symmetrical loops on either side render it closer in appearance to a wineskin. See Sheila Schwartz, “St. Joseph in Meister Bertram’s Petri-Altar,” Gesta 24, no. 2 (1985): 155, https://doi.org/10.2307/766972. The fact that Joseph complains about the empty skins in chapter 20 of the apocryphal gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, the only account in which the scene of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt takes place, is further indication that the object is could be a skin of some sort. See Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Twelve Patriarchs, Excerpts and Epistles, the Clementina, Apocrypha, Decretals, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents, Remains of the First Ages, vol. 8 of The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325(Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951), 376–77.

  41. 41. The boorishness of a chewing, open mouth with exposed teeth may be explained through an analysis of what would have been considered “appropriate” behavior within a late medieval German social context. Tischzucht manuals (books of table manners), were popularized by the expanding German bourgeois class in the thirteenth century, a group aspiring to behave in concordance with the rules of conduct espoused by the nobility. Artistic depictions and literary descriptions of peasants behaving as “boorish louts barely distinguishable from animals” and in ways that contradict the manner books’ “acceptable” behavior placed this group under scrutiny and within the realm of the comical “other.” Jacqueline E. Jung, “Peasant Meal or Lord’s Feast? The Social Iconography of the Naumburg Last Supper,” Gesta 42, no. 1 (2003): 51. https://doi.org/10.2307/25067074. Jacqueline Jung demonstrates the influence of these books of manners upon the depiction of the apostles in the mid-thirteenth-century Last Supper of the Naumburg Cathedral choir screen. Books like Wernher der Gärtner’s late thirteenth-century Meier Helmbrecht established a subjugated, liminal space that was activated by and for the reader, reinforcing his dominance and place within a higher social stratum. According to a German translation of a twelfth-century poem on manners, known as the Facetus, the unrefined peasant or “rude person,” who chews on his bread for too long, should be compared to the ass, as is Joseph in Bertram’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt. Likewise, authors of courtesy books and the priesthood’s instructors in behavior both condemned “vigorous engagement” with food. Michael Camille, Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art (London: Reaktion Books, 1992), 50–127. On Instruction of Novices by Hugh of St.-Victor (1096–1141) shows that restraint and control while consuming food and drink are indicative of good comportment but are likewise morally crucial, as “restless agitation and disorder in one’s limbs signifies an intemperate soul.” Hugh of St.-Victor, De institutione novitiorum, chapt. XVIII.

  42. 42. Jacqueline E. Jung, “The Social Iconography of the Naumburg Last Supper,” 51; Michael Camille, Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art (London: Reaktion Books, 1992), 50–127; Hugh of St.-Victor, De institutione novitiorum, chapt. XVIII.

  43. 43. Joseph’s depiction with visible front teeth is a common allusion to baseness, and sometimes wickedness as well, particularly when combined with hostile facial expressions. Hugo van der Goes’s shepherds in the Portinari Altarpiece (1475–76; Florence, Uffizi) expose their teeth while racing toward the Christ Child, in clear contrast with the holier figures, who exhibit an aristocratic comportment. The base nature of Robert Campin’s bad thief is likewise apparent in his opened mouth, while animal-like savagery is represented by the exposed teeth of Christ’s torturers in the Idar-Oberstein Altarpiece of ca. 1390. See Ruth Mellinkoff, Outcasts: Signs of Others in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 1:116; 2:I.49, VI.4, VI.13, VI.12, VI.2.

  44. 44. Walter Clyde Curry, Chaucer and the Medieval Sciences (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1960), 56–90; Elizabeth C. Evans, “Physiognomy and the Ancient World,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 59, no. 5 (1969): 1–101. https://doi.org/10.2307/1006011; François Loux, L’ogre et la dent: Pratiques et saviors populaires relatifs aux dents (Paris: Berger Levrault, 1981).

  45. 45. Charles Cuttler, Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel: Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Centuries (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1968), 55; James Snyder, Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, and the Graphic Arts from 1350 to 1575, 2nd ed., eds. Larry Silver and Henry Luttikhuizen (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2005), 73.

  46. 46. Mellinkoff, Outcasts, 1:82.

  47. 47. Mellinkoff, Outcasts, 1:226.

  48. 48. Mellinkoff, Outcasts, 1:226.

  49. 49. Schwäbisches Weihnachtsspiel, lines 215–20; Simon, “Das schwäbische Weihnachtsspiel,” 39; English translation from the Middle High German in Wright, “Joseph as Mother, Jutta as Pope,” 154.

  50. 50. Tunc Joseph bibat et det Marie et puero.” Ludus in cunabilis Christi, in Erlauer Weihnachtsspiel, lines 45–50. Karl Ferdinand Kummer, Erlauer Spiele (1882; repr., Hildesheim: George Olms Verlag, 1977), 8.

  51. 51. “Good wine, which will cheer you up.” Sterzinger Weihnachtsspiel, lines 877–878. Walther Lipphardt and Hans-Gert Roloff, eds., Die geistlichen Spiele des Sterzinger Spielarchivs, vol. 3 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1980), 396.

  52. 52. Wright, “Joseph as Mother, Jutta as Pope,” 156.

  53. 53. Alison G. Stewart, Unequal Lovers: A Study of Unequal Couples in Northern Art (New York: Abaris, 1978).

  54. 54. Deasy discusses the similarities between Joseph and Mary and the plights of young wives with old husbands in vernacular literature. Cormac Philip Deasy, St. Joseph in the English Mystery Plays (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America, 1937), 42–83; see also Theresa Coletti, “Purity and Danger: The Paradox of Mary’s Body and the En-gendering of the Infancy Narrative in the English Mystery Cycles,” in Feminist Approaches to the Body in Medieval Literature, ed. Linda Lomperis and Sarah Stanbury (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), 65–95.

  55. 55. Ferdinand Holthausen, “Die Quelle von Chaucers ‘Merchant’s Tale,’” Englische Studien 43 (1910/11): 170–76; Stewart, Unequal Lovers, 23.

  56. 56. See Stewart, Unequal Lovers; Lawrence Silver, “The Ill-Matched Pair by Quinten Massys,” Studies in the History of Art 6 (1974): 115; Barbara Swain, Fools and Folly during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1932), 85; Enid Welsford, The Fool: His Social and Literary History (London: Faber and Faber, 1935), 121.

  57. 57. Stewart, Unequal Lovers, 67, fig. 39.

  58. 58. R. Howard Bloch, “Modest Maids and Modified Nouns: Obscenity in the Fabliaux,” in Obscenity: Social Control and Artistic Creation in the European Middle Ages, ed. Jan M. Ziolkowski (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 297.

  59. 59. Michael Camille, “‘For Our Devotion and Pleasure’: The Sexual Objects of Jean, Duc de Berry,” Art History 24, no. 2 (April 2001): 169–94. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8365.00259

  60. 60. Louise O. Vasvari, “Joseph on the Margin: The Merode Tryptic and Medieval Spectacle,” Mediaevalia 18 (1995): 164–89. Louise Vasvari brilliantly points out the sexualization inherent in depictions of Joseph in his workshop, but she suggests that such scenes could be “sacrilegious,” working against the saint’s manifested centrality and theological symbolism in works like the Mérode Altarpiece.

  61. 61. Vasvari, “Joseph on the Margin,” 164–89.

  62. 62. These all contrast clearly with the more erect equipment of the foolish young dandies in a woodcut illustration to Sebastian Brant’s Narrenschiff, by Dürer, Old Wife and a Young Fool, dated 1494, and Niklaus Manuel’s drawing, Old Woman, Young Man and a Demon (ca. 1515; Basel, Kunstmuseum, Kupferstichkabinett). See Stewart, Unequal Lovers, 11–68, figs. 32 and 37.

  63. 63. Vasvari, “Joseph on the Margin,” 165.

  64. 64. Vasvari, “Joseph on the Margin,” 168.

  65. 65. Francesca Alberti, “‘Divine Cuckolds’: Joseph and Vulcan in Renaissance Art and Literature,’” in Cuckoldry, Impotence and Adultery in Europe (15th–17th Century), ed. Sara F. Matthews-Grieco (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2014), 161.

  66. 66. Purtle, The Marian Paintings of Jan van Eyck, xv.

  67. 67. Alberti, “‘Divine Cuckolds,’” 157.

  68. 68. Joseph is caricatured for his Jewishness and “unenlightened’ state, as a figure symbolic of the Old Law and as one whom, at Christ’s birth, has yet to recognize the child as Savior. Simultaneously, he is venerated as the first convert to the new, Christian, religion during the Nativity. This dual significance continues to be celebrated in the seventeenth century as well; see Shelley Perlove and Larry Silver, Rembrandt’s Faith: Church and Temple in the Dutch Golden Age (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009), 173–78.

  69. 69. Keith Moxey, “Hieronymus Bosch and the ‘World Upside Down’: The Case of The Garden of Earthly Delights,” in Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations, ed. Norman Bryson, Michael Ann Holly, and Keith Moxey (Hanover, N.H.: Wesleyan University Press, 1994), 124.

  70. 70. Camille, Image on the Edge, 10.

  71. 71. Camille, Image on the Edge, 67.

  72. 72. Camille, Image on the Edge, 70.

  73. 73. The development of a commercial economy based on the exchange of money rather than traditional loyalty was a concern for clerics, particularly in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the clergy’s concomitant sins became fodder for satires of papal and clerical avarice that continued through the Renaissance. Witty collections of Latin verses, called cento, written in the syntax of biblical verse, portray a pope who expounds to his cardinals on the doctrine of avarice. Laura Kendrick, “Medieval Satire,” in A Companion to Satire: Ancient and Modern, ed. Ruben Quintero (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007), 55–58; John A. Yunck, The Lineage of Lady Meed: The Development of Mediaeval Venality Satire (South Bend, In.: University of Notre Dame, 1963), 112–14.

  74. 74. Lilian M. C. Randall, “Games and the Passion in Pucelle’s Hours of Jeanne d’Évreux,” Speculum 47, no. 2 (April 1972): 246–57, https://doi.org/10.2307/2856691.

  75. 75. Roy J. Pearcy, “Modes of Signification and the Humor of Obscene Diction in the Fabliaux,” in The Humor of the Fabliaux: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Thomas D. Cooke and Benjamin L. Honeycutt (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1974), 166–67.

  76. 76. Schwartz, “St. Joseph in Meister Bertram’s Petri-Altar,” 147–56.

  77. 77. R. Howard Bloch, The Scandal of the Fabliaux (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 125.

  78. 78. Mary Douglas, “Jokes,” in Implicit Meanings: Essays in Anthropology (London: Routledge and Paul, 1975), 96; Douglas, like Sigmund Freud, sees jokes as forms of subversion. Sigmund Freud, The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious, trans. Joyce Crick (New York: Penguin Books, 2003); see also Ted Cohen, Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).

  79. 79. Ernst Kris, Psychoanalytic Explorations in Art (New York: International Universities Press, 1952), 213.

  80. 80. René Girard, “Perilous Balance: A Comic Hypothesis,” in To Double Business Bound: Essays on Literature, Mimesis, and Anthropology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), 121–34, esp. 33.

  81. 81. David R. Smith, “Sociable Laughter, Deep Laughter,” in Parody and Festivity in Early Modern Art: Essays on Comedy as Social Vision, ed. David R. Smith (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2012), 4. According to Bakhtin, this loss also entails “free and familiar contact among people.” Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, trans. Caryl Emerson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 123.

  82. 82. Moxey, “Hieronymus Bosch and the ‘World Upside Down,’” 130; Michael Camille, “Labouring for the Lord: The Ploughman and the Social Order in the Luttrell Psalter,” Art History 10 (1987): 423–54.

  83. 83. Jonathan Alexander, “Labeur and Paresse: Ideological Representations of Medieval Peasant Labor,” Art Bulletin 72, no. 3 (Sept. 1990): 436–52.

  84. 84. The popular Golden Legend by Jacobus Voragine, compiled ca. 1260, emphasizes the necessity of venerating saints not only for God’s influence in one’s life but for additional reasons which focus explicitly on human weakness in the need for assistance, hope, and imitation.

  85. 85. Laughter’s freedom serves many functions and is not always easy to explain. Scholars in many fields have attempted to categorize variations in the kinds of laughter—humor, satire, and ridiculousness—to varying conclusions and effects. Three major approaches have attempted to explain the phenomenon of humor since the sixteenth century. Francis Hutcheson identified incongruity as the source of humor, while Thomas Hobbes theorized humor as arising from a desire to assert superiority. Herbert Spencer pioneered the relief theory suggesting that humor results from a release of nervous energy. More recently, the three major theories have been mixed, with humor understood as a source for “amused laughter” in varying forms. See John Morreall, Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 1–23, https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444307795; and Simon Critchley, On Humour (London: Routledge, 2002), 3. Considered the “founding father of a German aesthetics of humour,” Jean Paul’s theory of humor as a Weltanschauung, or a philosophy of life, includes comedy and ridicule in its overall hierarchy. Laughter at the ridiculous, for example, is understood to be aimed toward inappropriate behavior and driven by superior insight but is “without bitterness or hints of satirical derision, and is instead distinguished by harmless pleasure.” But satirical derision and superior laughter toward the inappropriate seem to overlap quite frequently, and not just in the early modern world. See Stefan Seeber, “Medieval Humour? Wolfram’s Parzival and the Concept of the Comic in Middle High German Romances,” Modern Language Review 109, no. 2 (April 2014): 417–18, https://doi.org/10.5699/modelangrevi.109.2.0417; Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik: Kleine Nachschule zur ästhetischen Vorschule, ed. and comm. Norbert Miller (Munich: Hanser, 1974), 114; Noël Carroll, “Humour,” in The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics, ed. Jerrold Levinson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 344–65; Dolf Zillman and Joanne R. Cantor, “A Disposition Theory of Humour and Mirth,” in Humour and Laughter: Theory, Research and Applications, ed. Antony J. Chapman and Hugh C. Foot (London: Wiley, 1976), 93–116. David Smith writes that satire should be qualified as “insider’s laughter” in that it “ridicules the deviant: the outsider as one who doesn’t measure up . . . [while] comedy, defined as the outsider’s laughter, [is] targeted at the norms themselves.” In contrast to satire, comedy, he writes, “is tolerant of diversity, and its plots tend to reconcile divisions, often by ending in weddings, a recurrent feature of carnival.” But these distinctions between comedy and satire do not necessarily conform to the humor of Saint Joseph’s characterizations in art and in the cradle plays. Both forms, not comedy exclusively, seem socially recuperative in their reconciliation of divisions. See Smith, “Sociable Laughter, Deep Laughter,” 3; see also Jacques Le Goff, “Laughter in the Middle Ages,” in A Cultural History of Humour, ed. Jan Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1997), 40–53.

  86. 86. See Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1950).

  87. 87. Aron Gurevich, “Bakhtin and His Theory of Carnival,” in A Cultural History of Humour (see note 85 above), 57. Bakhtin’s Rabelais and His World qualified (problematically) the laughter of the carnivalesque, the “world upside down,” and the grotesque of the medieval festival as the “low” popular cultural sphere of the layfolk who were allegedly rebelling against the “high” official culture of the dominant church and state and the educated literati. According to Bakhtin, the propensity of the lower classes for the scatological is an example particularly of the desire to rebel against the decorum desired by the upper class. The lower class’s employment of humor, parody, and folklore supposedly fortified them with strategies of resistance to the norm imposed from above. Bakhtin understood carnival behavior as an expression of medieval popular culture, which he equated with a culture of laughter. The source of carnival was, to him, the desire of popular culture to invert sociopolitical reality in a culture supposedly dominated and strictly restricted by the Church (and its associated educated classes) who suppressed laughter. Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 96, 368–436.

  88. 88. E. K. Chambers, The Medieval Stage (London: Oxford University Press, 1903), 1:287–95.

  89. 89. Chambers, The Medieval Stage, 1:294; Max Harris, Sacred Folly: A New History of the Feast of Fools (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2011), 1–2. https://doi.org/10.7591/cornell/9780801449567.001.0001; Camille, Image on the Edge, 92.

  90. 90. Elizabeth Alice Honig, Painting and the Market in Early Modern Antwerp (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 60.

  91. 91. “die drey unsinnige tag”; Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” 194.

  92. 92. “unczymliche wort und unordeliche geperde”; Bayerisches Staatsarchiv Nürnberg, Rep. 60a: Verlässe des Inneren Rates (Ratsverlässe), no. 113, fol. 12v; Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” 196.

  93. 93. Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” 196.

  94. 94. “etlich lauffend nackend on alle scham gar entplösst durch die statt”; Franck, Weltbuoch, fol. 131v; Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” 198.

  95. 95. Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” 200; Hans Moser, “Zur Geschichte der Maske in Bayern,” in Masken in Mitteleuropa: Volkskundliche Beiträge zur europäische Maskenforschung, ed. Leopold Schmidt (Vienna: Verein für Volkskunde, 1955), 114.

  96. 96. Werner Schultheiss, ed., Die Acht-, Verbots- und Fehdebücher Nürnbergs von 1285-1400 (Nuremberg: Nuremberg City Council, 1960), 86.

  97. 97. Uvo Hölscher, “Goslarsche Ratsverordnungen aus dem 15. Jahrhundert,” Zeitschrift des Harz-Vereins für Geschichte und Altertumskunde 42 (1909): 66.

  98. 98. Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” 201-8.

  99. 99. William Tydeman, The Theatre in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 120–40; Honig, Painting and the Market, 60–68.

  100. 100. Tydeman, The Theatre in the Middle Ages, 120–40; Honig, Painting and the Market, 60–68.

  101. 101. Gurevich, “Bakhtin and His Theory of Carnival,” 54–60.

  102. 102. Terry Castle, Masquerade and Civilization: The Carnivalesque in Eighteenth-century English Culture and Fiction (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1986), 88–99.

  103. 103. Mahadev L. Apte, Humor and Laughter: An Anthropological Approach (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985), 155–61.

  104. 104. Meyer Schapiro, “‘Muscipula Diaboli’: The Symbolism of the Mérode Altarpiece,” Art Bulletin 27, no. 3 (1945): 182–87; Charles Illsley Minnott, “The Theme of the Mérode Altarpiece,” Art Bulletin 51, no. 3 (1969): 267–71, https://doi.org/10.2307/3047011.

  105. 105. Cynthia Hahn, “‘Joseph Will Perfect, Mary Enlighten and Jesus Save Thee’: The Holy Family as Marriage Model in the Mérode Triptych,” Art Bulletin 68, no. 1 (1986): 54.

  106. 106. Since Bernard of Clairvaux, the moment of Christ’s incarnation was also understood as the moment of the heavenly bridegroom’s spiritual marriage with Mary’s soul. See Falkenburg, “The Household of the Soul: Conformity in the Mérode Triptych,” 2–17.

  107. 107. Rooted in Meyer Schapiro’s and Charles Minnott’s earlier contributions, Cynthia Hahn argues for a close association between the work’s depicted tools and Ambrose’s Commentary on St. Luke, casting Joseph as a figure of God the Creator, the “good artisan of the soul.” She rightly diverges from these authors in her interpretation of the Mérode Joseph as an important focal point for personal devotion, rather than as a subsidiary figure veiled in symbolic meaning. Hahn, “‘Joseph Will Perfect, Mary Enlighten and Jesus Save Thee,’” 59. See also Falkenburg, “The Household of the Soul: Conformity in the Mérode Triptych,” 2–17.

  108. 108. Hahn, “‘Joseph Will Perfect, Mary Enlighten and Jesus Save Thee,’” 55–56.

  109. 109. In this sense I disagree with Pamela Sheingorn, “Constructing the Patriarchal Parent: Fragments of the Biography of Joseph the Carpenter,” in Framing the Family: Narrative and Representation in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods, ed. Rosalynn Voaden and Diane Wolfthal (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005), 171.

  110. 110. Cynthia Hahn rightly notes the humor of the Antwerp-Baltimore polyptych in a footnote; see Hahn, “‘Joseph Will Perfect, Mary Enlighten and Jesus Save Thee,’” 55n6.

  111. 111. For example, Josephine humor may be analyzed through the tradition of the sermo humilis, which grounds the rhetorical use of the low style, incorporating humor, in an extensive tradition of Christian humility and humor in sermons and literature—including the Gospels themselves—which I believe gave rise to a kind of analogous imago humilis. For the tradition of the sermo humilis, see Erich Auerbach, The Literary Language and Its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and in the Middle Ages, trans. Ralph Manheim (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965).

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List of Illustrations

Conrad von Soest;  Nativity;  detail of the Wildunger Altar; 1403;  tempera on wood;  188 x 152 cm.;  Bad Wildungen, Germany, Evangelische Stadtkirche
Fig. 1 Conrad von Soest, Nativity, detail of the Wildunger Altar, 1403, tempera on wood, 188 x 152 cm. Bad Wildungen, Germany, Evangelische Stadtkirche.
Mosan/South Netherlandish artist;  Flight into Egypt;  detail of a tabernacle;  ca. 1395–1400;  tempera on gilded oak;  137 x 47.5 cm (overall).;  Antwerp, Mayer van den Bergh Museum;  inv. MMB.0002
Fig. 2 Mosan/South Netherlandish artist, Flight into Egypt, detail of a tabernacle, ca. 1395–1400, tempera on gilded oak, 137 x 47.5 cm (overall). Antwerp, Mayer van den Bergh Museum, inv. MMB.0002, courtesy of the Mayer van den Bergh Museum, Antwerp (artwork in the public domain)
Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece;  Adoration of the Magi; detail;  ca. 1500;  oil on panel;  80.3 x 65.7 cm (overall).;  Munich, Alte Pinakothek;  inv. 10651
Fig. 3 Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece, Adoration of the Magi (detail), ca. 1500, oil on panel, 80.3 x 65.7 cm (overall). Munich, Alte Pinakothek, inv. 10651 (artwork in the public domain)
Meister Bertram von Minden;  Rest on the Flight into Egypt;  detail of the Petri-Altar (Grabow Altar);  1379–83;  tempera on oak;  266 x 726 cm (overall).;  Hamburg, Kunsthalle;  inv. H-K 500
Fig. 4 Meister Bertram von Minden, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, detail of the Petri-Altar (Grabow Altar), 1379–83, tempera on oak, 266 x 726 cm (overall). Hamburg, Kunsthalle, inv. H-K 500 (artwork in the public domain)
Boucicaut Master and Workshop;  Adoration of the Magi;  miniature from a Book of Hours;  ca. 1415–20;  tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment;  20.5 x 14.8 cm (leaf).;   Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum;  inv. 86.ML.571.72 (Ms 22, fol. 72)
Fig. 5 Boucicaut Master and Workshop, Adoration of the Magi, miniature from a Book of Hours, ca. 1415–20, tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment, 20.5 x 14.8 cm (leaf). Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, inv. 86.ML.571.72 (Ms 22, fol. 72) (artwork in the public domain)
Württembergisch-Franken artist;  Adoration of the Magi;  detail of an altarpiece;  ca. 1525;  limewood.; Würzburg, Mainfränkisches Museum
Fig. 6 Württembergisch-Franken artist, Adoration of the Magi, detail of an altarpiece, ca. 1525, limewood.Würzburg, Mainfränkisches Museum (artwork in the public domain)
Master of the Legend of Saint Barbara (active in Brussels, 1470–1500);  Adoration of the Magi;  detail of central panel of a triptych;  ca. 1480;  oil on oak;  90.7 x 96.7 cm.;  Rome, Galleria Colonna;  inv. 234
Fig. 7 Master of the Legend of Saint Barbara (active in Brussels, 1470–1500), Adoration of the Magi, detail of central panel of a triptych, ca. 1480, oil on oak, 90.7 x 96.7 cm. Rome, Galleria Colonna, inv. 234 (artwork in the public domain)
Veit Stoss;  Flight into Egypt;  detail of the Bamberg Altar;  ca. 1520;  limewood;  Bamberg Cathedral
Fig. 8 Veit Stoss, Flight into Egypt, detail of the Bamberg Altar, ca. 1520, limewood. Bamberg Cathedral
Meister Bertram von Minden and workshop;  Nativity;  detail of the high altar from the Petri-Kirche in Buxtehude;  ca. 1410;  tempera on oak;  108.5 x 93 cm.;  Hamburg, Kunsthalle;  inv. H-K 501 c
Fig. 9 Meister Bertram von Minden and workshop, Nativity, detail of the high altar from the Petri-Kirche in Buxtehude, ca. 1410, tempera on oak, 108.5 x 93 cm. Hamburg, Kunsthalle, inv. H-K 501 c (artwork in the public domain)
German School (Cologne);  Rest on the Flight into Egypt (after Martin Schongauer);  ca. 1500;  oil on panel;  88.7 x 78 cm.;  London, The Courtauld Gallery, The Samuel Courtauld Trust;  inv. P.1947.LF.68
Fig. 10 German School (Cologne), Rest on the Flight into Egypt (after Martin Schongauer), ca. 1500, oil on panel, 88.7 x 78 cm. London, The Courtauld Gallery, The Samuel Courtauld Trust, inv. P.1947.LF.68 (artwork in the public domain; photo © Courtauld Gallery, London)
Urs Graf;  Lustful Old Fool and Woman with Baby: Allegory of Fiddling;  early 16th century;  drawing.;  Basel, Offentliche Kunstsammlung, Kupferstichkabinett;  inv. U.X. 108
Fig. 11 Urs Graf, Lustful Old Fool and Woman with Baby: Allegory of Fiddling, early 16th century, drawing. Basel, Offentliche Kunstsammlung, Kupferstichkabinett, inv. U.X. 108 (artwork in the public domain)
Mosan/Netherlandish artist;  Nativity, panel of the Antwerp-Baltimore Polyptych of Philip the Bold;  panel of the Antwerp-Baltimore Polyptych of Philip the Bold;  ca. 1400;  tempera and gold leaf on wood;  33 x 21 cm.;  Antwerp, Mayer van den Bergh Museum;  inv. MMB.0001.1-2
Fig. 12 Mosan/Netherlandish artist, Nativity, panel of the Antwerp-Baltimore Polyptych of Philip the Bold, ca. 1400, tempera and gold leaf on wood, 33 x 21 cm. Antwerp, Mayer van den Bergh Museum, inv. MMB.0001.1-2, courtesy of the Mayer van den Bergh Museum, Antwerp.  (artwork in the public domain)
Israhel van Meckenem;   The Ill-Matched Couple (after the Housebook Master);  ca. 1480–90;  engraving;  15.5 x 17.4 cm.;   New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art;  Gift of M. Feltenstein, 2015, inv. 2015.703
Fig. 13 Israhel van Meckenem, The Ill-Matched Couple (after the Housebook Master), ca. 1480–90, engraving, 15.5 x 17.4 cm. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of M. Feltenstein, 2015, inv. 2015.703 (artwork in the public domain; photo © Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Limbourg Brothers;  January, miniature from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry;  before 1416;  tempera on vellum;  22.5 cm x 13.6 cm.;  Chantilly, Musée Condé;  Ms 65, fol. 1v
Fig. 14 Limbourg Brothers, January, miniature from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, before 1416, tempera on vellum, 22.5 cm x 13.6 cm. Chantilly, Musée Condé, Ms 65, fol. 1v (artwork in the public domain)
Artist unknown;  Joseph's Repentance of His Doubt, (copy after Robert Campin, The Life of Saint Joseph,  ca. 1425, now lost);  oil on panel;  64 x 203 cm;  Hoogstraten, Belgium, Saint Katarinakerk
Fig. 15 Artist unknown, Joseph's Repentance of His Doubt, oil on panel, 64 x 203 cm (copy after Robert Campin, The Life of Saint Joseph, ca. 1425, now lost). Hoogstraten, Belgium, Saint Katarinakerk
Master of the Little Garden of Paradise and his workshop;  The Doubt of Joseph, (from the hospice of Saint-Marc, Strasbourg);  ca. 1430;  oil on pine panel;  114 x 114 cm;  Strasbourg, Musée de l'Oeuvre Notre Dame;  on loan from the Hospices Civils de Strasbourg, inv. MBA 1482
Fig. 16 Master of the Little Garden of Paradise and his workshop, The Doubt of Joseph, ca. 1430, oil on pine panel, 114 x 114 cm (from the hospice of Saint-Marc, Strasbourg). Strasbourg, Musée de l'Oeuvre Notre Dame, on loan from the Hospices Civils de Strasbourg, inv. MBA 1482 (artwork in the public domain; photo: courtesy of the Musées de Strasbourg, M. Bertola).
Israhel van Meckenem;  The Visit to the Spinner, from Scenes of Daily Life;  ca. 1495/1503. Washington;  engraving;  16.2 x 11.1 cm;  D.C., The National Gallery of Art;  Rosenwald Collection, inv. 1953.4.1
Fig. 17 Israhel van Meckenem, The Visit to the Spinner, engraving, 16.2 x 11.1 cm, from Scenes of Daily Life, ca. 1495/1503. Washington, D.C., The National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald Collection, inv. 1953.4.1 (artwork in the public domain)
Master of the Little Garden of Paradise (also known as the Upper Rhenish Master);  The Little Garden of Paradise;  ca. 1410–20;  tempera on oak;  26.3 x 33.4 cm;  Frankfurt, Städel Museum;  on loan from the Historisches Museum Frankfurt, inv. HM 54
Fig. 18 Master of the Little Garden of Paradise (also known as the Upper Rhenish Master), The Little Garden of Paradise, ca. 1410–20, tempera on oak, 26.3 x 33.4 cm. Frankfurt, Städel Museum, on loan from the Historisches Museum Frankfurt, inv. HM 54 (artwork in the public domain)
Master of the Hours of Catherine of Cleves;  Holy Family at Supper, miniature from the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves;  ca. 1440;  tempera on vellum;  19.2 x 13 cm;  New York, Morgan Library and Museum;  Ms M.927, pp. 150–51
Fig. 19 Master of the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, Holy Family at Supper, miniature from the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves, ca. 1440, tempera on vellum, 19.2 x 13 cm. New York, Morgan Library and Museum, Ms M.927, pp. 150–51 (artwork in the public domain; photo: courtesy of IAP/Artstor)
Hieronymus Bosch;   Adoration of the Magi (detail of Joseph drying diapers);  ca. 1494;  grisaille and oil on oak;  147.4 x 168.6 cm;  Madrid, Prado Museum;  inv. P02048
Fig. 20 Hieronymus Bosch, Adoration of the Magi (detail of Joseph drying diapers), ca. 1494, grisaille and oil on oak, 147.4 x 168.6 cm. Madrid, Prado Museum, inv. P02048 (artwork in the public domain)
Israhel van Meckenem;  Henpecked Husband; 1480;  engraving;  9.7 x 10.1 cm;  Lehrs 649.
Fig. 21 Israhel van Meckenem, Henpecked Husband, 1480, engraving, 9.7 x 10.1 cm. Lehrs 649.
Jean Pucelle (French, active Paris);  Betrayal of Christ and the Annunciation, miniature from the Book of Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux;  1324–28; Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects;  grisaille, tempera, and ink on vellum;  9.2 x 6.2 cm (single folio);  New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters;  inv. 54.1.2
Fig. 22 Jean Pucelle (French, active Paris), Betrayal of Christ and the Annunciation, miniature from the Book of Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux, 1324–28, grisaille, tempera, and ink on vellum, 9.2 x 6.2 cm (single folio). New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters, inv. 54.1.2, (artwork in the public domain; photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
South Netherlandish, Workshop of Robert Campin;  Annunciation Triptych (Mérode Altarpiece);   ca. 1425–32;  oil on oak;  64.5 x 117.8 cm (overall);  New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection, 1956;  inv. 56.70a-c
Fig. 23 South Netherlandish, Workshop of Robert Campin, Annunciation Triptych (Mérode Altarpiece), ca. 1425–32, oil on oak, 64.5 x 117.8 cm (overall). New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection, 1956, inv. 56.70a-c (artwork in the public domain; photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Footnotes

  1. 1. For this article’s purposes, the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance are categorized as “early modern.”

  2. 2. Erwin Panofsky, Studies in Iconology: Humanistic Themes in the Art of the Renaissance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1939); Erwin Panofsky, “Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait,” Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 64, no. 372 (March 1934): 117–27.

  3. 3. “Popular” culture in the sense not only of that associated with the “lower” classes, but the culture of the many who do not belong to the highest political or religious leadership; see Gerhard Jaritz, “Bildquellen zur mittelalterlichen Volksfrömmigkeit,” in Volksreligion im hohen und späten Mittelalter, ed. Peter Dinzelbacher and Dieter R. Bauer (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1990), 206; Norbert Schindler, “Spuren in die Geschichte der ‘anderen’ Zivilisation: Probleme und Perspektiven einer historischen Volkskulturforschung,” in Volkskultur: Zur Wiederentdeckung des vergessenen Alltags (16.-20. Jahrhundert), ed. Richard van Dülmen and Norbert Schindler (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch, 1984), 23–24, 53, 74–77; Peter Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (New York: Harper and Row, 1978), xi.

  4. 4. Louis Réau, “Joseph,” Iconographie des saints, vol. 3, pt. 2, of Iconographie de l’art chrétien (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1958), 752–55; Johan Huizinga, The Autumn of the Middle Ages (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 168; Teresa Rodrigues, ed., Butler’s Lives of the Saints: New Full Edition, vol. 3 (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1993), 185–86; Marjory Bolgar Foster, “The Iconography of St. Joseph in Netherlandish Art, 1400–1550,” (PhD diss., University of Kansas, 1978), 249; Max J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting (New York: Praeger, 1967), 2: pl. 103, no. 82.

  5. 5. Huizinga, The Autumn of the Middle Ages, 168.

  6. 6. Réau, “Joseph,” 754.

  7. 7. Palémon Glorieux, “Saint Joseph dans l’oeuvre de Gerson,” Cahiers de Joséphologie 19 (1971): 423–25; Carolyn C. Wilson, St. Joseph in Italian Renaissance Society and Art: New Directions and Interpretations (Philadelphia: Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2001), 46.

  8. 8. Rosemary Drage Hale, “Joseph as Mother: Adaptation and Appropriation in the Construction of Male Virtue,” in Medieval Mothering, ed. John Carmi Parsons and Bonnie Wheeler (New York: Garland Publishing, 1996), 104; Francis Lad Filas, Joseph: The Man Closest to Jesus (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1962), 495.

  9. 9. Bernard of Clairvaux, Laudibus virginis Mariae, 63–64.

  10. 10. Réau, “Joseph,” 752–55.

  11. 11. Rodrigues, ed., Butler’s Lives of the Saints, 185–86.

  12. 12. Joseph Dusserre, Les origines de la dévotion à Saint Joseph: Cahiers de Joséphologie (Montreal, 1953–54), 1: 23–54, 169–96; 2: 5–30; C. A., “Le développement historique du Culte de Saint Joseph,” Revue Bénédictine 14, nos. 1–4 (1897): 104–14. Modern-day theologians like Joseph F. Chorpenning, O.S.F.S., and historians like Paul Payan have unveiled the theological discourse underlying Joseph’s rise in the eyes of the Catholic Church before the official introduction of his feast in the late fifteenth century. Before the work of these scholars, our understanding of Joseph’s history rested upon a pre-sixteenth century image of the saint who is mostly derided for his age, simplicity, and care for a child by his wife that is most certainly not his own. Paul Payan, Joseph: Une image de la paternité dans l’Occident medieval (Lonrai: Aubier, 2006); Paul Payan, “Ridicule? L’image ambiguë de saint Joseph à la fin du Moyen Âge,” Médiévales 39 (2000): 96–111, https://doi.org/10.3406/medi.2000.1497; Joseph F. Chorpenning, O.S.F.S., Joseph of Nazareth through the Centuries (Philadelphia: Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2011).

  13. 13. Wilson, St. Joseph in Italian Renaissance Society and Art, 95.

  14. 14. Wilson, St. Joseph in Italian Renaissance Society and Art, 66.

  15. 15. Sheila Schwartz, “The Iconography of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt,” (PhD diss., New York University, Institute of Fine Arts, 1975), 65.

  16. 16. Schwartz, “The Iconography of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt,” 66.

  17. 17. Schwartz, “The Iconography of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt,” 84.

  18. 18. Ursula Demand et al., Kleiner Weg-Weiser durch die Domschatzkammer Aachen (Aachen: Domkapital zu Aachen, 1995), 42.

  19. 19. Josef de Coo’s 1965 article on Joseph’s Hosen in painting, pilgrim medallions, and literature exposes the relic’s significance for late medieval pilgrims and the devout of Western Europe. Josef de Coo, “In Josephs Hosen Jhesus ghewonden wert: Ein Weihnachtsmotiv in Literatur und Kunst,” Aachener Kunstblätter 30 (1965): 144–84.

  20. 20. Louise Berthold, “Die Kindelwiegenspiele,” Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur 56 (1932): 209. The existing manuscripts classified as Kindelwiegenspiele are the Ludus in cunabilis Christi of the Erlauer Spiele from Kärnten (Gmünd, early fifteenth century), the Hessische Weihnachtsspiel, of Friedberg, dated between 1450 and 1460, and the Sterzinger Weihnachtsspiel of 1511 (Bozen, South Tyrol), written by Vigil Raber. Eckehard Simon added the Schwäbische Weihnachtsspiel to Berthold’s category. See Eckehard Simon, “Das schwäbische Weihnachtsspiel: Ein neu entdecktes Weihnachtsspiel aus der Zeit 1417–1431,” Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie 94 (1975): 45.

  21. 21. Stephen K. Wright, “Joseph as Mother, Jutta as Pope: Gender and Transgression in Medieval German Drama,” Theatre Journal 51, no. 2 (May 1999): 149–66; Rosemary Drage Hale, “Joseph as Mother,” 101–16; Pamela Sheingorn, “The Maternal Behavior of God: Divine Father as Fantasy Husband,” in Medieval Mothering, ed. John Carmi Parsons and Bonnie Wheeler (New York: Garland Publishing, 1996), 77–100.

  22. 22. Was wiltu, alder zegenbart?” Hessisches Weihnachtsspiel, line 615. For the text, see Richard Froning, ed., Das Drama des Mittelalters (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1964), 902–39.

  23. 23. Hessische Weihnachtsspiel, lines 648–715; Martin Walsh, “Breikocher Josef: The Medieval Origins of a Grotesque Comic Motif in the German Christmas Play” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the Société Internationale pour l’étude du théâtre médiéval, Elx, 2004). http://www.medievalists.net/2010/12/22/breikocher-josef-the-medieval-origins-of-a-grotesque-comic-motif-in-the-german-christmas-play/ (accessed February 10, 2011).

  24. 24. Walsh, “Breikocher Josef.”

  25. 25. Wright, “Joseph as Mother, Jutta as Pope,” 158.

  26. 26. Craig Harbison, “Iconography and Iconology,” in Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception, and Research, ed. Bernhard Ridderbos, Anne van Buren, and Hank van Veen (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005), 380; Sixten Ringbom, From Icon to Narrative: The Rise of the Dramatic Close-up in Fifteenth-century Devotional Painting (Doornspijk: Davaco, 1984), 50–51.

  27. 27. James H. Marrow, “Symbol and Meaning in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance.” Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art 16, no. 2/3 (1986): 150–69.

  28. 28. Marrow, “Symbol and Meaning,” 161.

  29. 29. Ringbom, From Icon to Narrative, 12.

  30. 30. Carol J. Purtle, The Marian Paintings of Jan van Eyck (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), xv. For a summary of this debate and its implications, see Reindert Falkenburg, “The Household of the Soul: Conformity in the Mérode Triptych,” in Early Netherlandish Painting at the Crossroads: A Critical Look at Current Methodologies, ed. Maryan Ainsworth (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001), 2–17.

  31. 31. Harbison, “Iconography and Iconology,” 401; Jacques Toussaert, Le sentiment religieux en Flandre à la fin du Moyen-Âge (Paris: Plon, 1963).

  32. 32. As the type of the rustic, or vilain, peasants represented the base and the ridiculous. In a fourteenth-century short poem by Jean de de Condé, entitled “Des Vilains et des Courtois,” the rustic epitomizes how not to act, in clear contrast with the virtuous, chivalric knight. See Paul Freedman, Images of the Medieval Peasant (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999), 133; Stanley Leman Galpin, “Cortois and Vilain: A Study of the Distinctions Made between Them by the French and Provençal Poets of the Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Centuries” (PhD diss., Yale University, 1905), 8–9. Further studies of literary treatments of peasants include Fritz Martini, Das Bauerntum im deutschen Schrifttum von den Anfängen bis zum 16. Jahrhundert (Haale, Germany: M. Niemeyer, 1944), 41–102, 135–213; Hilde Hügli, Der deutsche Bauer im Mittelalter dargestellt nach den deutschen literarischen Quellen vom 11.–15. Jahrhundert (1929; reprint, Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus, 1970); Heide Wunder, “Der dumme und der schlaue Bauer,” in Mentalität und Alltag im Spätmittelalter, ed. Cord Meckseper (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1985), 34–51; G. G. Coulton, The Medieval Village (Cambridge, 1925; reprint, New York: Dover, 1989), 231–52.

  33. 33. Freedman, Images of the Medieval Peasant, 139.

  34. 34. Freedman, Images of the Medieval Peasant, 140.

  35. 35. A prime example of such humor exists in the German Heinrich Wittenwiler’s poem “Der Ring,” written ca. 1400, which tells the story of the peasant wedding of Betsy Wagglebottom and Berty Dripnose, whose manners, ugliness, and vulgarity are even more amusing because of their attempts to imitate chivalric behavior. See George Fenwick Jones, Wittenwiler’s Ring and the Anonymous Scots Poem Colkelbie Sow (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1956); Keith P. F. Moxey, “Sebald Beham’s Church Anniversary Holidays: Festive Peasants as Instruments of Repressive Humor,” Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art 12, no. 2/3 (1981–82), 127, https://doi.org/10.2307/3780596.

  36. 36. The increasing ridicule of the peasant in art and literature from the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries is a trend that Walter French ascribes to a greater contrast between city and country than in the earlier Middle Ages. During the high medieval period, the view of rusticity was more frequently also a pleasant one, with poets like Neidhart von Reuental (ca. 1190–1236/37) and Tannhäuser (d. after 1265) contrasting the joys of a natural life in the country with the affectation of courtly life. Increasing hostility toward the peasantry appeared in the manner books of the thirteenth century, which attempted to safely distance the aristocracy and upper classes from the lower classes, particularly by ridiculing the latter’s behavior through drawing parallels with the behavior of the beasts with which they lived and worked. The bliss of uninhibited country life and the satisfying “otherness” of the peasantry for the more elevated elites appeared in a number of fourteenth-century courtly commissions that depict buffoonish peasants laboring or behaving like beasts and fools while nobles leisurely move about their land. See Walter French, “Kulturgeschichtliches in the Fastnachtspiele of Hans Sachs” (PhD diss., Ohio State University, 1918), 15. The popularity of the peasant in chivalric poetry developed particularly into a means of parodying courtly ideals. Humor in the peasant genre was characterized in earlier medieval literature and art by a kind of “double-edged sword . . . while on the one hand mocking aristocratic cultural institutions such as love service, tournaments and feasts, it offered the reader or listener a vicious satire of uncouth manners and obscene sexual conduct attributed to the peasantry.” Moxey, “Sebald Beham’s Church Anniversary Holidays,” 127.

  37. 37. Walter French describes Sachs as one who adopts the viewpoint of the casual observer of the common man, while simultaneously leading the audience to a thoughtful, idealistic conclusion. Ridicule and play frequently appeared in such comic literature and art in “satiro-didactic” form, but it is equally possible that sometimes there was no intended underlying idealism or moral, only a simple desire to arouse laughter, an act that has a function in and of itself. French, “Kulturgeschichtliches in the Fastnachtspiele of Hans Sachs,” 15–35; Moxey, “Sebald Beham’s Church Anniversary Holidays,” 128. Carnival behavior itself also merged the human with the animal. The costumes worn by carnival revelers were frequently of animals, peasants, and devils, and it is these three types that Eckehard Simon most closely associates with the bawdy spirit of carnival. In one carnival play, “Dame Shrovetide” is accused of “turning people into animals: foolish calves, apes, jackasses, and pigs . . . when people disguised themselves as animals, it is likely that they also behaved in the lewd ways that the medieval mind associated with beasts.” Eckehard Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” in Obscenity: Social Control and Artistic Creation in the European Middle Ages, ed. Jan M. Ziolkowski (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 202; see also Alison Stewart, Before Bruegel: Sebald Beham and the Origins of Peasant Festival Imagery (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2008). Sebastian Franck writes that “some crawl on all fours like animals/ others sit on eggs hatching fools.” Sebastian Franck, Weltbuoch: Spiegel und bildtniss des gantzen erdtbodens von Sebastiano Franco Wördensi in vier bücher (Tübingen, 1534), fol. 131r.

  38. 38. Christa Grössinger, Humour and Folly in Secular and Profane Prints of Northern Europe, 1430–1540 (London: Harvey Miller, 2002), 101.

  39. 39. Jörg Wickram, Das Rollwagenbüchlein, LXIII [Strassburg, 1555]; see Heinrich Kurz, ed., Jörg Wickram’s Das Rollwagenbüchlein (Leipzig: J. J. Weber, 1865), 114–15.

  40. 40. The ambiguous object is perhaps a piece of bread, but the presence of the symmetrical loops on either side render it closer in appearance to a wineskin. See Sheila Schwartz, “St. Joseph in Meister Bertram’s Petri-Altar,” Gesta 24, no. 2 (1985): 155, https://doi.org/10.2307/766972. The fact that Joseph complains about the empty skins in chapter 20 of the apocryphal gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, the only account in which the scene of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt takes place, is further indication that the object is could be a skin of some sort. See Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Twelve Patriarchs, Excerpts and Epistles, the Clementina, Apocrypha, Decretals, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents, Remains of the First Ages, vol. 8 of The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325(Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951), 376–77.

  41. 41. The boorishness of a chewing, open mouth with exposed teeth may be explained through an analysis of what would have been considered “appropriate” behavior within a late medieval German social context. Tischzucht manuals (books of table manners), were popularized by the expanding German bourgeois class in the thirteenth century, a group aspiring to behave in concordance with the rules of conduct espoused by the nobility. Artistic depictions and literary descriptions of peasants behaving as “boorish louts barely distinguishable from animals” and in ways that contradict the manner books’ “acceptable” behavior placed this group under scrutiny and within the realm of the comical “other.” Jacqueline E. Jung, “Peasant Meal or Lord’s Feast? The Social Iconography of the Naumburg Last Supper,” Gesta 42, no. 1 (2003): 51. https://doi.org/10.2307/25067074. Jacqueline Jung demonstrates the influence of these books of manners upon the depiction of the apostles in the mid-thirteenth-century Last Supper of the Naumburg Cathedral choir screen. Books like Wernher der Gärtner’s late thirteenth-century Meier Helmbrecht established a subjugated, liminal space that was activated by and for the reader, reinforcing his dominance and place within a higher social stratum. According to a German translation of a twelfth-century poem on manners, known as the Facetus, the unrefined peasant or “rude person,” who chews on his bread for too long, should be compared to the ass, as is Joseph in Bertram’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt. Likewise, authors of courtesy books and the priesthood’s instructors in behavior both condemned “vigorous engagement” with food. Michael Camille, Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art (London: Reaktion Books, 1992), 50–127. On Instruction of Novices by Hugh of St.-Victor (1096–1141) shows that restraint and control while consuming food and drink are indicative of good comportment but are likewise morally crucial, as “restless agitation and disorder in one’s limbs signifies an intemperate soul.” Hugh of St.-Victor, De institutione novitiorum, chapt. XVIII.

  42. 42. Jacqueline E. Jung, “The Social Iconography of the Naumburg Last Supper,” 51; Michael Camille, Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art (London: Reaktion Books, 1992), 50–127; Hugh of St.-Victor, De institutione novitiorum, chapt. XVIII.

  43. 43. Joseph’s depiction with visible front teeth is a common allusion to baseness, and sometimes wickedness as well, particularly when combined with hostile facial expressions. Hugo van der Goes’s shepherds in the Portinari Altarpiece (1475–76; Florence, Uffizi) expose their teeth while racing toward the Christ Child, in clear contrast with the holier figures, who exhibit an aristocratic comportment. The base nature of Robert Campin’s bad thief is likewise apparent in his opened mouth, while animal-like savagery is represented by the exposed teeth of Christ’s torturers in the Idar-Oberstein Altarpiece of ca. 1390. See Ruth Mellinkoff, Outcasts: Signs of Others in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 1:116; 2:I.49, VI.4, VI.13, VI.12, VI.2.

  44. 44. Walter Clyde Curry, Chaucer and the Medieval Sciences (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1960), 56–90; Elizabeth C. Evans, “Physiognomy and the Ancient World,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 59, no. 5 (1969): 1–101. https://doi.org/10.2307/1006011; François Loux, L’ogre et la dent: Pratiques et saviors populaires relatifs aux dents (Paris: Berger Levrault, 1981).

  45. 45. Charles Cuttler, Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel: Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Centuries (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1968), 55; James Snyder, Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, and the Graphic Arts from 1350 to 1575, 2nd ed., eds. Larry Silver and Henry Luttikhuizen (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2005), 73.

  46. 46. Mellinkoff, Outcasts, 1:82.

  47. 47. Mellinkoff, Outcasts, 1:226.

  48. 48. Mellinkoff, Outcasts, 1:226.

  49. 49. Schwäbisches Weihnachtsspiel, lines 215–20; Simon, “Das schwäbische Weihnachtsspiel,” 39; English translation from the Middle High German in Wright, “Joseph as Mother, Jutta as Pope,” 154.

  50. 50. Tunc Joseph bibat et det Marie et puero.” Ludus in cunabilis Christi, in Erlauer Weihnachtsspiel, lines 45–50. Karl Ferdinand Kummer, Erlauer Spiele (1882; repr., Hildesheim: George Olms Verlag, 1977), 8.

  51. 51. “Good wine, which will cheer you up.” Sterzinger Weihnachtsspiel, lines 877–878. Walther Lipphardt and Hans-Gert Roloff, eds., Die geistlichen Spiele des Sterzinger Spielarchivs, vol. 3 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1980), 396.

  52. 52. Wright, “Joseph as Mother, Jutta as Pope,” 156.

  53. 53. Alison G. Stewart, Unequal Lovers: A Study of Unequal Couples in Northern Art (New York: Abaris, 1978).

  54. 54. Deasy discusses the similarities between Joseph and Mary and the plights of young wives with old husbands in vernacular literature. Cormac Philip Deasy, St. Joseph in the English Mystery Plays (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America, 1937), 42–83; see also Theresa Coletti, “Purity and Danger: The Paradox of Mary’s Body and the En-gendering of the Infancy Narrative in the English Mystery Cycles,” in Feminist Approaches to the Body in Medieval Literature, ed. Linda Lomperis and Sarah Stanbury (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), 65–95.

  55. 55. Ferdinand Holthausen, “Die Quelle von Chaucers ‘Merchant’s Tale,’” Englische Studien 43 (1910/11): 170–76; Stewart, Unequal Lovers, 23.

  56. 56. See Stewart, Unequal Lovers; Lawrence Silver, “The Ill-Matched Pair by Quinten Massys,” Studies in the History of Art 6 (1974): 115; Barbara Swain, Fools and Folly during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1932), 85; Enid Welsford, The Fool: His Social and Literary History (London: Faber and Faber, 1935), 121.

  57. 57. Stewart, Unequal Lovers, 67, fig. 39.

  58. 58. R. Howard Bloch, “Modest Maids and Modified Nouns: Obscenity in the Fabliaux,” in Obscenity: Social Control and Artistic Creation in the European Middle Ages, ed. Jan M. Ziolkowski (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 297.

  59. 59. Michael Camille, “‘For Our Devotion and Pleasure’: The Sexual Objects of Jean, Duc de Berry,” Art History 24, no. 2 (April 2001): 169–94. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8365.00259

  60. 60. Louise O. Vasvari, “Joseph on the Margin: The Merode Tryptic and Medieval Spectacle,” Mediaevalia 18 (1995): 164–89. Louise Vasvari brilliantly points out the sexualization inherent in depictions of Joseph in his workshop, but she suggests that such scenes could be “sacrilegious,” working against the saint’s manifested centrality and theological symbolism in works like the Mérode Altarpiece.

  61. 61. Vasvari, “Joseph on the Margin,” 164–89.

  62. 62. These all contrast clearly with the more erect equipment of the foolish young dandies in a woodcut illustration to Sebastian Brant’s Narrenschiff, by Dürer, Old Wife and a Young Fool, dated 1494, and Niklaus Manuel’s drawing, Old Woman, Young Man and a Demon (ca. 1515; Basel, Kunstmuseum, Kupferstichkabinett). See Stewart, Unequal Lovers, 11–68, figs. 32 and 37.

  63. 63. Vasvari, “Joseph on the Margin,” 165.

  64. 64. Vasvari, “Joseph on the Margin,” 168.

  65. 65. Francesca Alberti, “‘Divine Cuckolds’: Joseph and Vulcan in Renaissance Art and Literature,’” in Cuckoldry, Impotence and Adultery in Europe (15th–17th Century), ed. Sara F. Matthews-Grieco (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2014), 161.

  66. 66. Purtle, The Marian Paintings of Jan van Eyck, xv.

  67. 67. Alberti, “‘Divine Cuckolds,’” 157.

  68. 68. Joseph is caricatured for his Jewishness and “unenlightened’ state, as a figure symbolic of the Old Law and as one whom, at Christ’s birth, has yet to recognize the child as Savior. Simultaneously, he is venerated as the first convert to the new, Christian, religion during the Nativity. This dual significance continues to be celebrated in the seventeenth century as well; see Shelley Perlove and Larry Silver, Rembrandt’s Faith: Church and Temple in the Dutch Golden Age (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009), 173–78.

  69. 69. Keith Moxey, “Hieronymus Bosch and the ‘World Upside Down’: The Case of The Garden of Earthly Delights,” in Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations, ed. Norman Bryson, Michael Ann Holly, and Keith Moxey (Hanover, N.H.: Wesleyan University Press, 1994), 124.

  70. 70. Camille, Image on the Edge, 10.

  71. 71. Camille, Image on the Edge, 67.

  72. 72. Camille, Image on the Edge, 70.

  73. 73. The development of a commercial economy based on the exchange of money rather than traditional loyalty was a concern for clerics, particularly in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the clergy’s concomitant sins became fodder for satires of papal and clerical avarice that continued through the Renaissance. Witty collections of Latin verses, called cento, written in the syntax of biblical verse, portray a pope who expounds to his cardinals on the doctrine of avarice. Laura Kendrick, “Medieval Satire,” in A Companion to Satire: Ancient and Modern, ed. Ruben Quintero (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007), 55–58; John A. Yunck, The Lineage of Lady Meed: The Development of Mediaeval Venality Satire (South Bend, In.: University of Notre Dame, 1963), 112–14.

  74. 74. Lilian M. C. Randall, “Games and the Passion in Pucelle’s Hours of Jeanne d’Évreux,” Speculum 47, no. 2 (April 1972): 246–57, https://doi.org/10.2307/2856691.

  75. 75. Roy J. Pearcy, “Modes of Signification and the Humor of Obscene Diction in the Fabliaux,” in The Humor of the Fabliaux: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Thomas D. Cooke and Benjamin L. Honeycutt (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1974), 166–67.

  76. 76. Schwartz, “St. Joseph in Meister Bertram’s Petri-Altar,” 147–56.

  77. 77. R. Howard Bloch, The Scandal of the Fabliaux (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 125.

  78. 78. Mary Douglas, “Jokes,” in Implicit Meanings: Essays in Anthropology (London: Routledge and Paul, 1975), 96; Douglas, like Sigmund Freud, sees jokes as forms of subversion. Sigmund Freud, The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious, trans. Joyce Crick (New York: Penguin Books, 2003); see also Ted Cohen, Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).

  79. 79. Ernst Kris, Psychoanalytic Explorations in Art (New York: International Universities Press, 1952), 213.

  80. 80. René Girard, “Perilous Balance: A Comic Hypothesis,” in To Double Business Bound: Essays on Literature, Mimesis, and Anthropology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), 121–34, esp. 33.

  81. 81. David R. Smith, “Sociable Laughter, Deep Laughter,” in Parody and Festivity in Early Modern Art: Essays on Comedy as Social Vision, ed. David R. Smith (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2012), 4. According to Bakhtin, this loss also entails “free and familiar contact among people.” Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, trans. Caryl Emerson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 123.

  82. 82. Moxey, “Hieronymus Bosch and the ‘World Upside Down,’” 130; Michael Camille, “Labouring for the Lord: The Ploughman and the Social Order in the Luttrell Psalter,” Art History 10 (1987): 423–54.

  83. 83. Jonathan Alexander, “Labeur and Paresse: Ideological Representations of Medieval Peasant Labor,” Art Bulletin 72, no. 3 (Sept. 1990): 436–52.

  84. 84. The popular Golden Legend by Jacobus Voragine, compiled ca. 1260, emphasizes the necessity of venerating saints not only for God’s influence in one’s life but for additional reasons which focus explicitly on human weakness in the need for assistance, hope, and imitation.

  85. 85. Laughter’s freedom serves many functions and is not always easy to explain. Scholars in many fields have attempted to categorize variations in the kinds of laughter—humor, satire, and ridiculousness—to varying conclusions and effects. Three major approaches have attempted to explain the phenomenon of humor since the sixteenth century. Francis Hutcheson identified incongruity as the source of humor, while Thomas Hobbes theorized humor as arising from a desire to assert superiority. Herbert Spencer pioneered the relief theory suggesting that humor results from a release of nervous energy. More recently, the three major theories have been mixed, with humor understood as a source for “amused laughter” in varying forms. See John Morreall, Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 1–23, https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444307795; and Simon Critchley, On Humour (London: Routledge, 2002), 3. Considered the “founding father of a German aesthetics of humour,” Jean Paul’s theory of humor as a Weltanschauung, or a philosophy of life, includes comedy and ridicule in its overall hierarchy. Laughter at the ridiculous, for example, is understood to be aimed toward inappropriate behavior and driven by superior insight but is “without bitterness or hints of satirical derision, and is instead distinguished by harmless pleasure.” But satirical derision and superior laughter toward the inappropriate seem to overlap quite frequently, and not just in the early modern world. See Stefan Seeber, “Medieval Humour? Wolfram’s Parzival and the Concept of the Comic in Middle High German Romances,” Modern Language Review 109, no. 2 (April 2014): 417–18, https://doi.org/10.5699/modelangrevi.109.2.0417; Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik: Kleine Nachschule zur ästhetischen Vorschule, ed. and comm. Norbert Miller (Munich: Hanser, 1974), 114; Noël Carroll, “Humour,” in The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics, ed. Jerrold Levinson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 344–65; Dolf Zillman and Joanne R. Cantor, “A Disposition Theory of Humour and Mirth,” in Humour and Laughter: Theory, Research and Applications, ed. Antony J. Chapman and Hugh C. Foot (London: Wiley, 1976), 93–116. David Smith writes that satire should be qualified as “insider’s laughter” in that it “ridicules the deviant: the outsider as one who doesn’t measure up . . . [while] comedy, defined as the outsider’s laughter, [is] targeted at the norms themselves.” In contrast to satire, comedy, he writes, “is tolerant of diversity, and its plots tend to reconcile divisions, often by ending in weddings, a recurrent feature of carnival.” But these distinctions between comedy and satire do not necessarily conform to the humor of Saint Joseph’s characterizations in art and in the cradle plays. Both forms, not comedy exclusively, seem socially recuperative in their reconciliation of divisions. See Smith, “Sociable Laughter, Deep Laughter,” 3; see also Jacques Le Goff, “Laughter in the Middle Ages,” in A Cultural History of Humour, ed. Jan Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1997), 40–53.

  86. 86. See Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1950).

  87. 87. Aron Gurevich, “Bakhtin and His Theory of Carnival,” in A Cultural History of Humour (see note 85 above), 57. Bakhtin’s Rabelais and His World qualified (problematically) the laughter of the carnivalesque, the “world upside down,” and the grotesque of the medieval festival as the “low” popular cultural sphere of the layfolk who were allegedly rebelling against the “high” official culture of the dominant church and state and the educated literati. According to Bakhtin, the propensity of the lower classes for the scatological is an example particularly of the desire to rebel against the decorum desired by the upper class. The lower class’s employment of humor, parody, and folklore supposedly fortified them with strategies of resistance to the norm imposed from above. Bakhtin understood carnival behavior as an expression of medieval popular culture, which he equated with a culture of laughter. The source of carnival was, to him, the desire of popular culture to invert sociopolitical reality in a culture supposedly dominated and strictly restricted by the Church (and its associated educated classes) who suppressed laughter. Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 96, 368–436.

  88. 88. E. K. Chambers, The Medieval Stage (London: Oxford University Press, 1903), 1:287–95.

  89. 89. Chambers, The Medieval Stage, 1:294; Max Harris, Sacred Folly: A New History of the Feast of Fools (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2011), 1–2. https://doi.org/10.7591/cornell/9780801449567.001.0001; Camille, Image on the Edge, 92.

  90. 90. Elizabeth Alice Honig, Painting and the Market in Early Modern Antwerp (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 60.

  91. 91. “die drey unsinnige tag”; Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” 194.

  92. 92. “unczymliche wort und unordeliche geperde”; Bayerisches Staatsarchiv Nürnberg, Rep. 60a: Verlässe des Inneren Rates (Ratsverlässe), no. 113, fol. 12v; Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” 196.

  93. 93. Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” 196.

  94. 94. “etlich lauffend nackend on alle scham gar entplösst durch die statt”; Franck, Weltbuoch, fol. 131v; Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” 198.

  95. 95. Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” 200; Hans Moser, “Zur Geschichte der Maske in Bayern,” in Masken in Mitteleuropa: Volkskundliche Beiträge zur europäische Maskenforschung, ed. Leopold Schmidt (Vienna: Verein für Volkskunde, 1955), 114.

  96. 96. Werner Schultheiss, ed., Die Acht-, Verbots- und Fehdebücher Nürnbergs von 1285-1400 (Nuremberg: Nuremberg City Council, 1960), 86.

  97. 97. Uvo Hölscher, “Goslarsche Ratsverordnungen aus dem 15. Jahrhundert,” Zeitschrift des Harz-Vereins für Geschichte und Altertumskunde 42 (1909): 66.

  98. 98. Simon, “Carnival Obscenities in German Towns,” 201-8.

  99. 99. William Tydeman, The Theatre in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 120–40; Honig, Painting and the Market, 60–68.

  100. 100. Tydeman, The Theatre in the Middle Ages, 120–40; Honig, Painting and the Market, 60–68.

  101. 101. Gurevich, “Bakhtin and His Theory of Carnival,” 54–60.

  102. 102. Terry Castle, Masquerade and Civilization: The Carnivalesque in Eighteenth-century English Culture and Fiction (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1986), 88–99.

  103. 103. Mahadev L. Apte, Humor and Laughter: An Anthropological Approach (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985), 155–61.

  104. 104. Meyer Schapiro, “‘Muscipula Diaboli’: The Symbolism of the Mérode Altarpiece,” Art Bulletin 27, no. 3 (1945): 182–87; Charles Illsley Minnott, “The Theme of the Mérode Altarpiece,” Art Bulletin 51, no. 3 (1969): 267–71, https://doi.org/10.2307/3047011.

  105. 105. Cynthia Hahn, “‘Joseph Will Perfect, Mary Enlighten and Jesus Save Thee’: The Holy Family as Marriage Model in the Mérode Triptych,” Art Bulletin 68, no. 1 (1986): 54.

  106. 106. Since Bernard of Clairvaux, the moment of Christ’s incarnation was also understood as the moment of the heavenly bridegroom’s spiritual marriage with Mary’s soul. See Falkenburg, “The Household of the Soul: Conformity in the Mérode Triptych,” 2–17.

  107. 107. Rooted in Meyer Schapiro’s and Charles Minnott’s earlier contributions, Cynthia Hahn argues for a close association between the work’s depicted tools and Ambrose’s Commentary on St. Luke, casting Joseph as a figure of God the Creator, the “good artisan of the soul.” She rightly diverges from these authors in her interpretation of the Mérode Joseph as an important focal point for personal devotion, rather than as a subsidiary figure veiled in symbolic meaning. Hahn, “‘Joseph Will Perfect, Mary Enlighten and Jesus Save Thee,’” 59. See also Falkenburg, “The Household of the Soul: Conformity in the Mérode Triptych,” 2–17.

  108. 108. Hahn, “‘Joseph Will Perfect, Mary Enlighten and Jesus Save Thee,’” 55–56.

  109. 109. In this sense I disagree with Pamela Sheingorn, “Constructing the Patriarchal Parent: Fragments of the Biography of Joseph the Carpenter,” in Framing the Family: Narrative and Representation in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods, ed. Rosalynn Voaden and Diane Wolfthal (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005), 171.

  110. 110. Cynthia Hahn rightly notes the humor of the Antwerp-Baltimore polyptych in a footnote; see Hahn, “‘Joseph Will Perfect, Mary Enlighten and Jesus Save Thee,’” 55n6.

  111. 111. For example, Josephine humor may be analyzed through the tradition of the sermo humilis, which grounds the rhetorical use of the low style, incorporating humor, in an extensive tradition of Christian humility and humor in sermons and literature—including the Gospels themselves—which I believe gave rise to a kind of analogous imago humilis. For the tradition of the sermo humilis, see Erich Auerbach, The Literary Language and Its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and in the Middle Ages, trans. Ralph Manheim (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965).

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