Faience plate 8" in diameter showing three scenes depicting "Le Fou qui Vend la Sagesse.
Faience plate 8" in diameter showing three scenes depicting "Le Fou qui Vend la Sagesse." Numbered "3." A mark on the back seems to combine the letters "M" and "C" and says "déposé Fables Terre de Fer." $45 from Daria Edwards, NY, Feb., '00.
The madman offers wisdom for a price, and gives those who pay a slap and a piece of thread two ells long. In this strange and wonderful story (La Fontaine IX 8), the first result is that we should not try to make sense of this act – or of anything else that fools say or do! The second result occurs in the story when one fellow, embarrassed by the blow and thread, goes to find a wise man, who tells him immediately that these things are symbols: "Stay this length of thread away from all madmen, or you'll get similar 'caresses.' You were not fooled; that madman does sell wisdom." The plate effectively presents both objects of trade, the slap and the thread. Monochrome characters in the panels at left and right are pondering the string and laughing, respectively.