Dictionary of Art and Artists


that Changed the World


  Lascaux Caves Manesse illuminated Massys Callot Friedrich Picasso
  Tutankhamen's tomb Lorenzetti Grunewald Rembrandt Constable Matisse
  Europa and Minotaur Karlstein Castle Baldung Claude Lorrain Delacroix Marc
  Banquet Tomb Limbourg brothers Altdorfer Velazquez Turner Kandinsky
  Pompeii Van Eyck Cranach Vermeer Ingres Monet
  Birth of Christianity Della Francesca Holbein Rigaud Manet Chirico
  Hagia Sophia Uccello Titian Watteau Burne-Jones Modigliani
  Book of Kells Mantegna Bruegel Canaletto Seurat Chagall
  St Benedict Botticelli Vicentino Boucher Van Gogh Kahlo
  Bayeux Tapestry Anonymous Arcimboldo Fragonard Toulouse-Lautrec Dali
  Donizo manuscript Durer El Greco Gainsborough Munch Ernst
  Liber Scivias Bosch Theodore de Bry John Trumbull Cezanne Hopper
  Carmina Burana Da Vinci Caravaggio David Gauguin Bacon
  Falcon Book Michelangelo Rubens Gros Degas Warhol
  Giotto Raphael Brouwer Goya Klimt  

From Lascaux to Warhol

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth,
passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius,
but never abandoned.

William Butler Yeats




"When Shall We Three Meet Again"

Europe swept by witch-burnings



Now I come to speak of the greatest of all heresies: of the mischief wrought by witches and fiends. By night they fly through the air on broomsticks, stove forks, cats, goats or other such things. Witchcraft is the most accursed of all errors - and it must be mercilessly punished by fire.

Mathias von Kemnat, Chronicle of Frederick the Victorious of the Palatinate, с. 1480;
heading: William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 1, Scene1


Hans Baldung Grien The Witches Sabbath



see collection:

The Witches; Brian Froud "Good faeries & bad faeries"



They concocted devilish ointments of toads' eyes, choke cherries, peppercorns and spiders. They poisoned the air with powders ground from intestines. They caused cataclysmic deluges to fall from the heavens. They set off avalanches and turned themselves into red-eyed goats. Their favourite food was pickled children. Imagination knew no bounds when it came to describing the monstrous things done by witches and their evil powers. Some early tales are inadvertently funny. Witches blew up storms by vigorously fanning them with their slippers or slid down into valleys on the backs of avalanches, the tails of their scarves flapping in the wind. In early Modern times, however, witches were no laughing matter. Enlightened bishops — who castigated belief in ghosts, witches and black magic and regarded it as utter nonsense that represented a revival of pagan practices — were not heeded. Most theologians not only promoted dark superstition; they were convinced that sorcery was a reality and the result of pacts with the devil. Witchcraft was heresy, which made it doubly important to prosecute it and to persecute practitioners. In 1487 a compendium of horror stories was published in Strasbourg, the Hexenhammer (Witches' Hammer), which continued to be read in Europe until the seventeenth century. Both Protestant and Catholic judges consulted it as a penal code for dealing with witchcraft. One can imagine King James, famously obsessed with witchcraft, having been sent a copy by his daughter from the Palatinate. At any rate, the book may be said to have sparked off much of the witch-burning madness of the early Modern age. Its authors approved of torture, maintaining that women in particular were inclined to the sin of witchcraft. Of course women who gave themselves up to "lust and carnal desire or even sodomy" were prime targets for persecution. The German painter Hans Baldung Grien, who from 1509 lived in Strasbourg — where Hexenhammer had been published not long before — most likely wanted to get in on the act with his Two Witches. Despite the continued call for moderation and reason, witch-burnings — which had ceased in England by 1685 — were still common practice on mainland Europe as late as 1749. Trials however continued until 1717 in England, whereas the last recorded trial of a witch took place in 1793 in Germany.


Hans Baldung Grien
Zwei Wetterhexen (Two Witches)
Stadelches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt


Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

| privacy