Witches in art

Witches inspired many artists and I will present some of their works with few facts about magic, witchcraft and similar stuff. All paintings on this page are in Public Domain because their authors are dead for more then 70 years. All can be found on Wikimedia, great repository of knowledge, but not so great index of stored material.

As we can see on next painting by Francisco Goya (1746-1828), witches often perform their rituals in groups called covens.

coven of witches

The Coven by Francisco Goya

Ladies are not alone. This painting shows their worship of the devil who joined them in the form of a goat. The connection between witches and devil was introduced only around the year 1000 AD. This is probably connected with belief this year will bring the end of the world but we’ll not go into details. Goat is not the only creature, associated with witches.

male witch

Male witch on the broom

This one flies with a bat. Work is signed by Cosmas Damian Asam (1686-1739) and is typical baroque. Note the muscles!

sourcer and dragon

Sourcer and dragon

This time with a dragon. Painting is made by Franz Karl Spitzweg (1808-1885).

witch and scarecrow

Witch and a scarecrow in the snow

And with a scarecrow! (By the way, I hope, you recognized the style of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1939), one of the founders of German Expressionism.

Witchcraft can be done in groups or solo. Here is another assembly:

assembly of witches

An assembly of the witches

The painting above is another example of baroque art. This time this is work by Frans Francken (1581-1642). Let’s take a look at another work of Francisco Goya:

witches sabbath

Witches’ Sabbath

Naming this kind of gathering Sabbath clearly alludes on Jews who were appropriate scapegoats for Christians for many centuries.  The reason for this is partly in their knowledge of science which was often misunderstood as magic.

preparation of love potion

Love potion

A skilled witch was able to save or take lives thanks to her knowledge of herbs. The painting above is work of Evelyn de Morgan (1855-1919). Although witchcraft was never exclusive to fair sex (check paintings above again), ladies were most of the history (which predates Christianity for many centuries) in vast majority. Association of women with magic is almost for sure a consequence of the biggest miracle women were able to perform – giving birth.

I will substantiate this theory with interesting fact – Hecate, the goddess of sorcery was originally a goddess of wilderness and childbirth. Here we can see how William Blake (1757-1827) portrayed her:

hecate-william-blake

The Triple Hecate

Talking about famous witches we must also mention Circe, dangerous mistress of Odysseus:

circe john william waterhous

Circe offering the cup to Odysseus

Painting is made by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917), who also signed next work of art:

jason and medea

Jason and Medea

Antique was not the only time appropriate for witches. Arthurian legends are loaded with poitions, spells and magic. The most famous sorceress was Morgan le Fay:

morgan le faye

Morgan le Fay

This painting was made by Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys (1829-1904). Of course we can’t conclude our journey without witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

macbeth banquo sisters

Macbeth and Banque meet the weird sisters

The painting above is work from John Wootton (around 1682-1764), the next painting is from Daniel Gardner (1750-1805).

thee witches

The three witches

And here is a sorceress from the Bible, the famous witch of Endor:

witch of endor

Witch of Endor

The biblical scene with Saul in trouble was painted by Alessandro Magnasco (1667-1749) and the next one is made by Nikolai Nikolaevich Ge.

witch of endor

Witch of Endor

We could go on and on but this should be enough for today. If you are already in the right mood, you can put suitable witch costume on and start partying…

For everybody else: good night:)

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