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.


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


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.



Witches Sabbath (1797–98) by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes.


Witches in the Air (1797–98) by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes.


Macbeth (1820) by John Martin.

Not one of John Martin’s best, it’s supposed to be Macbeth and Banquo encountering the Weird Sisters. As usual with Martin, the figures are perfunctory, he seems more interested in the flying clouds and the beetling crags which are more suited to the Lower Alps than the Scottish Highlands.


Forest Witches (1938) by Paul Klee.


Witch Louise Huebner (1969), photo for LIFE by Michael Rougier.

4 thoughts on “Witches”

  1. Very timely, Mr. Coulthart, – don’t know if you’re aware of the current exhibition at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh – Witches and Wicked Bodies – which finishes on 3/11/13. Goya, Blake, Fuseli, Durer, Rosa, Grien and lots more – well worth a visit for anyone that can make it to Auld Reekie.

  2. Thanks, I think I linked to news about that exhibition in one of my weekend posts. Looks like a good one, there’s a number of artists there whose work I don’t think I’ve seen in galleries.

  3. I rate for Rosa’s “Witches at their Incantations”, in the National Gallery. Partly because it turns up as the cover art for the Pantheon hardback edition of Carlo Ginzburg’s “Ecstasies”.

  4. In honour of “Witches in the Air”, the Frau Doktorin and I are re-watching “Trance”.

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