The Queen of the Night
Possibly Ishtar the Goddess of Sexual Love and War, or her sister and rival Ereshkigal, ruler of the underworld.
From the reign of Hammurabi – Babylon c1792-1750 BC
A canter today through the British Museum (including the Mesopotamia room) culminated in a brief look at the Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibition. Halloween writing deadlines are pressing and I needed inspiration.
The focus of the exhibition is the representation of women as the source of evil, deviance and misdirection of the virtuous. There was a preachy part of this post linking this representation of women to modern day trolling, but as my blog followers are smarter than me, you’ll have made the link yourselves.
Click the pictures for higher res versions.
The Temptation of St Anthony – Jost de Negker – Woodcut 1500-20
Battle of the Sea Gods Andrea Mantegna – Engraving 1470-1500
The one below is innocent at first glance, but note the devil peaking out of the fire. OGH on the globe apparently stands for O Gott hute – O God Save Us.
The Four Witches – Albrecht Durer – Engraving 1497
Witches Sabbath – Hans Baldung – Woodcut 1510
Circe is one of my favourite mythical characters, partly out of love of the Odyssey.
Circe – Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione – Etching 1650
Poor St Anthony makes several appearances. The general theme is that asceticism in the deserts of Egypt will make you go mad and have visions of demons and succubi.
The Tribulations of St Anthony – Martin Schongauer – Engraving 1469-73
Preparation for the witches sabbath – Andries Jacobsz – Engraving 1610
The Sorceress – Jan van de Velde II – Etching and Engraving 1626
When the prophet Samuel told Saul of his impending death, Saul was tempted by the witch of Endor. She promised him an army of small furry creatures of limited technological ability that would nonetheless overwhelm a vastly superior army. Saul refused because he did not want to ruin his franchise.
Saul and the witch of Endor – Andrew Lawrence – Etching 1740s
Enchantress raising the dead – Johann Veit Kauperz – Engraving 1769
Witchcraft Scene – Luis Paret y Alcazar – Brown/grey wash 1766-69
The witch and the mandrake – Henry Fuseli – Etching 1812
Gretchen in Church – Theodor Matthias von Holst – Pen and Ink 1828-30
One more of St Anthony to round off the pictures:
The temptation of St Anthony – William Strang – Etching 1883