It Is All Hay Artist: Frans Pourbus the Elder (Flemish, 1545–1581)


Prints and Drawings

The circular format of this drawing suggests that it was probably a design for a stained-glass roundel, although it might have been made for a print. The drawing illustrates the Flemish proverb Al Hoy ([It is] all hay). In the common understanding of sixteenth-century Flanders, hay represented something trivial or worthless; the composition is thus to be interpreted as a vanitas—an allusion to humankind’s folly in striving for transient earthly gains and pleasures. The fool at the center feeds hay to a cleric and a soldier, while another fool offers a young woman some hay on a pitchfork.


Pen and brown ink and brown wash over black chalk, encircled in red chalk


sheet: 10 3/16 × 9 5/16 in. (25.9 × 23.7 cm)
framed: 20 1/2 × 15 1/2 in. (52.1 × 39.4 cm)

Credit Line

Egmont Collection, Yale Library Transfer

Accession Number



16th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



John Percival, 1st Earl of Egmont (1683-1748); John T. Graves; Robert Hoe (sale, New York, Anderson Auction Company, 15-19 April, 1912; Library of Robert Hoe, Part III, A-K, no.949); Yale University Library (anonymous donor, 1957)
  • Lisa Hodermarsky, Suzanne Boorsch, and John J. Marciari, Master Drawings from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2006), 78–80, 247, no. 17, ill.
Object copyright
Additional information


On backing sheet, shield with a Strasburg lily or fleur-de-lys, topped with a crown


Inscribed in pen and brown ink, upper left: "francisco pourbus / fecit in antwen [Antwerpen?] / 1575"; on robe of priest: "...WLVTE[?] APOSTATE"; lower right, lower part of letters cut off: "...on tal[?] 1575"; at right edge. partially cut: "10[?]"

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