Feb 1, 2007

The Witch (Night Piece)

The Witch (Night Piece)


Jan van de Velde

(Dutch, 1620–1662)


Framed: 39.4 x 51.6 cm (15 1/2 x 20 5/16 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. Lewis B. Williams Collection 1943.635

Catalogue raisonné: Hollstein XXXIII.53.152



This nocturnal scene depicts a bare-breasted sorceress concocting her evil brew in the company of bizarre beasts. She stands within a "magic circle" scratched into the ground, the supernaturally consecrated space for witchcraft-a likely inspiration for the circular forms of Rosa's paintings. She overturns a horn into her cauldron engulfed in billowing flames; mixing with the powder are two streams of ash that spew forth from pipes held in the anus of a somersaulting demon at left. The swirling, decorative composition and the variety of grotesque creatures making knowing and silly faces at the viewer add elements of whimsy and farce to the ostensibly serious, occult subject.

See also
PR - Engraving
Type of artwork: 

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email [email protected].

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.