A witches' sabbath. Line engraving, 17--.

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Satan sits on his throne at the centre of a witches' sabbath. Four figures around the throne dance acrobatically and convulsively. Right foreground, two witches cook dismembered infants in a cauldron; left foreground, devils and witches feast on them

Physical description

1 print : engraving with etching ; platemark 21.1 x 32.9 cm


Description de l'assemblée des sorciers qu'on appelle sabbat. Bears number: XVIII

References note

E. Grillot de Givry, Witchcraft, magic and alchemy, London: George Harrap, 1931, pp. 76, 78, 82


Wellcome Collection 33376i

Creator/production credits

Attributed to Bartholomaeus Spranger by E. Grillot de Givry, Witchcraft, magic and alchemy, London: George Harrap, 1931, p. 76 ("There are two important representations of the Sabbath in existence, and these may be regarded as the best and most consistent with the details given by the principal demonologists. One is a print by the Polish engraver I. Ziarnko (Fig. 46), which is found annexed to some copies of a sombre book by Pierre de l'Ancre, Tableau de l'inconstance des mauvais anges et démons (Paris, 1610). The other is a picture by Spranger; the original of this is lost, but there is an excellent engraving of it in the bizarre work by the Abbé Bordelon, Histoire des imaginations extravagantes de Monsieur Oufle (fig. 47)."). Grillot de Givry does not say why he attributes the work or some part of it to Spranger. The book from which he reproduces it (Abbé Laurent Bordelon, L'histoire des imaginations extravagantes de Monsieur Oufle causées par la lecture des livres qui traitent de la magie, du grimoire, des démoniaques, sorciers ... des fées, ogres ... phantômes & autres revenans, des songes, de la pierre philosophale, de l'astrologie judiciaire, Amsterdam 1710) does not mention Spranger as the author of the engraving (nor any other artist), nor do the English (1711) and Portuguese (1814) translations of Bordelon. Grillot de Givry repeatedly refers to it as the print by Spranger. Some figures from the "Spranger" print are taken from the print by "Ziarnko" as reproduced by Grillot de Givry on pp. 76-77. If this print dates from 1610 it would of course be closer in date to Spranger. Some of the figures in the "Ziarnko" print appear to be quite similar to Spranger. In view of the number of separate figures and scenes contained in them, it appears prima facie to be quite likely that both prints combine elements from a number of different pre-existing sources. The 1931 work by Grillot de Givry cited here is an English translation of his Le musée des sorciers: mages et alchemistes, Paris 1929, where the two prints are discussed on pp. 64-69. However no additional information is given there about the attributions



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