The Witches' Sabbath
Halloween is coming, which means the spooky archive finds come to light!
Let's start by exploring this amazing print from 1510 of a bunch of witches doing witchy stuff!
This print from a chiaroscuro woodcut, which is evident from the three printing colors (white, black, and gray). Chiaroscuro woodcuts are two (or more) carved blocks of wood that are printed on top of each other to make the image - one block had the outline, and others had the shading. This creates a sense of depth and in this case, the shading, dark black, and spots of white give the witches a creepy glow as they sit around their cauldron.
Malleus Maleficarum, or the Witches' Hammer, was been published in 1487, licensed by the Roman Catholic Church. The book advocated for the eradication of witches and was extremely popular in terms of sales, perhaps because it could help readers get an idea of who is a witch and what is witchcraft. But, for the majority who weren't literate, artists like Baldung could create a image that told the story, with all the classic visuals of the witch.
These are such classic images of witchcraft, and Baldung has done a precise and exacting job of bringing it to life, with small details, attention to figure, and beautiful lines.
Stay tuned for more creepy, Halloween-themed posts in October!
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Away from prying eyes, damaging light, and pilfering hands, the most special collections are kept in closed stacks. You need an appointment to view the objects, letters, and books that open a door to the past.