The Patriot, the Artist and the Fool

Stanczyk by Jan Matejko
by Jan Matejko

As an artist and a fool, I am delighted to report that from the reign of the pharaohs through the reign of Oliver Cromwell, fools, or jesters, were gainfully employed by the king- to help keep him straight on the theory that the ability to laugh at oneself is a sign of mental health.

Would this work today? Imagine Stephen Colbert in the inner circle at the White House and having the last word at any press conference.

The Polish artist Jan Matejko, who I wrote about yesterday, was considered to have been a great Polish patriot, though he  took jabs at the government.

Above is another of Matejko’s famous paintings, “Stanczyk,” depicting a famous fool who has just received notice that enemies have defeated Polish troops a mere two hundred miles away. Notice that the leaders are still drinking and dancing the night away in the room behind him. Who are the real fools here?


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