A witch at her cauldron surrounded by monsters. Etching by Jan van de Velde II, 1626.

  • Velde, Jan van de, 1593-1641.
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A demonstration not only of the engraver's art but also of some of the features that were attributed to witches in early modern times (15th-17th centuries). She has books of recipes and spells: the books, called grimoires, are shown in the lower right corner, together with magic philtres in flasks. She stands with her goat, or the Devil in the form of a goat, inside a circle marked out with letters forming spells that protect her from hostile powers. By incantation she has summoned up a host of monstrous demons ready to act at her bidding to inflict some catastrophe, for example a violent hailstorm or the killing of a child. She has a cauldron on the fire, in which she is brewing a poisonous or hallucinogenic mixture. While she wafts grains of a herb from a horn into the mixture, other ingredients are added by exhalations from the anus of one of the monsters through a couple of clay pipes. Other monsters are smoking the same pipes more conventionally in their mouths, while another one breathes fire from his eyes and nose to heat the brazier. Sudden gusts of wind buffet the trees, and the whole sinister scene is illuminated by a burning house in the background



Physical description

1 print : etching


Quantum malorum clausa nullo limite Cogit libido, quamque dulci carmine Purissimas mortalium mentes rapit Furias in omnes, sed cito quam fallimur. Vitam brevem breve gaudium Mors occupat momentulum quod ridet, aeternum dolet. J. v. Velde fecit 1626


Wellcome Collection 37703i



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