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A man buried up to his waist holds his hands up above his head: a man and a woman stand on either side watching him in distress. Woodcut, 17--.

Date
1700-1799

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Free to use with attribution CC BYCredit: Wellcome Collection
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Description

The subject of the woodcut as published is Jasper Cunningham of Aberdeen, who tries to seduce his sister while they are walking in a garden. She replies that such an act of adultery and incest is against the will of God. Jasper tells her that there is no God and no Devil, and no afterlife: these are just "devised fables to keep poor souls in fear". God then delivers His judgment on Jasper by making fire rise up around him, leading to his death in agony, from which he could not be rescued, which is supposed to be the subject of the present woodcut. However, the present woodcut does not show fire: it suggests that the man in the centre is falling through ice or being sucked into quicksand. The man on the left clutches at a stake apparently to stop himself from sinking also. It may be that the publishers of the Jasper Cunningham ballad reused a woodcut that had originally been intended to show a different subject The impression catalogued was housed with woodcuts of witchcraft and therefore assumed to show the "sink or float" method of seeking out witches. However it is not necessarily associated with witchcraft

Publication/Creation

1700-1799

Physical description

1 print : woodcut

Type/Technique

Language

  • English

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License information

You can use this work for any purpose, including commercial uses, without restriction under copyright law. You should also provide attribution to the original work, source and licence.

Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) terms and conditions https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

Credit

A man buried up to his waist holds his hands up above his head: a man and a woman stand on either side watching him in distress. Woodcut, 17--. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY


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