Witches

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Scene of Witchcraft (1510) by Hans Baldung Grien.

Earlier this year Pam Grossman declared 2013 to be the Year of the Witch, so in honour of that (and the season) here’s a handful of sorceresses through the ages. Most can be found in higher quality at the Google Art Project but a couple are from other sources. I’ve taken the liberty of attributing the drawing below to Hans Baldung Grien, not Albrecht Dürer as Google has it. Not only is this the attribution I’ve always seen for this picture but Baldung’s “HBG” monogram is clearly visible beneath the sprawling woman.

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New Year’s Greeting with Three Witches (1514) by Hans Baldung Grien.

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The Witches’ Sabbath (c.1640–1649) by Salvator Rosa.

Salvator Rosa specialised in lurid depictions of bandits, executions and—as here—witches. The excessive imagery appealed to later generations, especially the Romantics. This painting is even more grotesque than usual with its flayed-bird abominations (below) looming out of the shadows.

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Eustace details

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St Eustace (c. 1501) by Albrecht Dürer.

As is often the case with his engraving on religious themes, Dürer is less concerned with the Biblical story—in this case St Eustace’s vision of Christ appearing between the horns of a stag—than with the opportunity to render with great fidelity a wealth of natural detail. Everything here is observed with the utmost precision, down to the binding of the spurs on Eustace’s boots. A superb composition which leads the eye past the mystical deer, through the trees and up the hill.

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Melencolia details

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The idle question “Where can you find the best reproduction of Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I?” was answered at the Google Art Project where there are four different prints to examine. As usual it seems churlish to complain but I would have preferred one decent copy and a few more Dürer engravings in place of the duplicates; his Knight, Death and the Devil, for example, is absent. There are several other engravings, however, all of whose minute details and shading benefit from close scrutiny. Dürer is well-represented compared to other artists, there are several paintings there as well. The only oddity is the inclusion of this drawing of three witches by Dürer’s pupil Hans Baldung Grien. The museum that owns the drawing credits Grien but a search isn’t really necessary when it’s signed with the artist’s “HBG” monogram in place of Dürer’s famous “AD”. Does Google have any art historians proofing these entries or is it solely the work of technicians copying and pasting information?

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Weekend links 108

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Bob Staake’s cover illustration acknowledges President Obama’s statement last week in favour of gay marriages.

• Related to the above: Gay rights in the US, state by state, an infographic and a useful riposte to people like Orson Scott Card (yes, him again) who claim that gay Americans are equal in everything but the right to marry. On the same theme, “Now Obama’s come out on same-sex marriage, maybe so will I,” says Edmund White (yes, him again), and Eric Berkowitz, author of Sex & Punishment: 4,000 Years of Judging Desire, who writes that “In the period up to roughly the thirteenth century, male bonding ceremonies were performed in churches all over the Mediterranean.”

• The fifth edition of A Humument by Tom Phillips will be published soon by Thames & Hudson. The Tom Phillips website has just been relaunched in a form which now incorporates the notes I made in December about Phillips’ album cover designs.

• The Greenfriars are encouraging people to follow their example and get involved with their local communities (the habits are optional). Kudos for the choice of a Dürer knot.

The action centres on the arrival of a man who may or may not be a prophet, or the devil, or just a violent con-man, in a rotting, rain-drenched Hungarian hamlet. This is the “estate”, apparently some sort of failed collective, where all hope has been lost and all the buildings are falling down. It is inhabited by a cast of semi-crazed inadequates: desperate peasants cack-handedly trying to rip each other off while ogling each other’s wives; a “perpetually drunk” doctor obsessively watching his neighbours; young women trying to sell themselves in a ruined mill; a disabled girl ineptly attempting to kill her cat.

Sátántango by László Krasznahorkai is published in a new translation by George Szirtes

• The Quietus interviewed Kevin Shields following the long-awaited reissue of the My Bloody Valentine catalogue.

• The first volume of Russ Kick’s Graphic Canon (to which I’m a contributor) has been sighted in the wild.

Rise of the Living Type: Stylised 17th century floriated letterforms & grotesque mask sprinkles.

Ed Jansen’s Camera Obscura III, a tour of museums, galleries and venues, 2009–2011.

• io9 reports on the new translation of Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky.

Shanghai Expression: Graphic Design in China in the 1920s and 30s.

Liberty Realm, a monograph of drawings by Catharyne Ward.

• 100 mins of Adrian Sherwood‘s best dub productions.

Strange Flowers checked into the Chelsea Hotel.

Chelsea Girls (1967) by Nico | Chelsea Morning (1968) by Fairport Convention | Chelsea Hotel #2, Rufus Wainwright sings Leonard Cohen.

Albrecht Dürer’s Triumphal Arch

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Albrecht Dürer’s Triumphal Arch (1515), a wall-sized print produced by 192 separate print blocks. I had a good look at this the last time I was the British Museum. The Museum’s site has some sample details of the work but the size of them isn’t so good, unfortunately. This is one of those pictures you either have to see in situ or find a huge digital copy to scrutinise in order to fully appreciate its incredible detail.

The Triumphal Arch is one of the largest prints ever produced. It was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519). The programme was devised by the court historian and mathematician, Johann Stabius, who explains underneath that it was constructed after the model of ‘the ancient triumphal arches of the Roman Emperors’. (More.)

The Triumphal Arch at The American Institute for Conservation | An overview of the prints and some good views of the full scale of the work.
The Triumphal Arch at Backtoclassics.com | A large view and some details.

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