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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Witches Preparing for Sabbath

Andries Stock (Netherlandish, 1572/82–after 1648)
Designed by Jacques de Gheyn II (Netherlandish, Antwerp 1565–1629 The Hague)
Published by Nicolaes de Clerck
ca. 1610
Sheet: 17 1/4 × 25 3/4 in. (43.8 × 65.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Charles Hack and Angella Hearn, 2001
Accession Number:
Not on view
To appreciate the complex symbolism and rich details of the world of witches represented in this print close examination is needed. In the centre three witches prepare ointments that they will smear over their bodies enabling them to fly. The book before them presumably contains the recipe they need for their concoction. At the right another witch riding a broomstick fuelled by the vapors from a cauldron is being dragged by the hair by a demon. In the upper left, witches clutch bolts of fire, a reference to their power to wreak havoc by creating storms of hail and lightning to ruin crops. Below to the left, Cupid seems to be struggling with a winged demon. This has been understood as a battle between the perverse loves of witches and the pure love of Cupid. Many other details throughout the composition add to our enjoyment of it.
During the time this print was made many people believed in the reality of witches and their activities. We do not know for certain the attitude of Jacques de Gheyn who designed the print but there is some evidence to think he was a skeptic and regarded subjects of witchcraft with bemusement.
Charles Hack; Donor: Charles Hack
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," November 30, 1998–February 8, 1999.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paper Chase: Two Decades of Collecting Drawings and Prints," December 9, 2014–March 16, 2015.

New Hollstein (Gheyn) I.235.155; Hollstein VII.120.96; Le Blanc II.288.77; Wurzbach I.583.56
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