The Weird Sisters (Shakespeare, MacBeth, Act 1, Scene 3)

Various artists/makers

Not on view

Smith’s mezzotint reproduces Fuseli’s striking conception of the witches as first encountered by Macbeth and Banquo in Shakespeare’s play (act 1, scene 3), prompting Banquo to ask:
"What are these
So wither’d and wild in their attire, That look not like the inhabitants o’ the earth,
And yet are on’t?.../ You seem to understand me, By each at once her chappy finger laying /
Upon her skinny lips . . ."
After a seven-year sojourn in Rome, Fuseli settled in London in 1779 and became known for painting imaginative and disturbing subjects. The overlapping, profile presentation of the witches echoes classical reliefs, but their features, gestures, and flying skull-headed companion demonstrate an equal familiarity with macabre precedents in the work of Italian painters such as Domenico Veneziano and Salvator Rosa.

The Weird Sisters (Shakespeare, MacBeth, Act 1, Scene 3), John Raphael Smith (British, baptized Derby 1751–1812 Doncaster), Mezzotint

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