Witch Art?
December 2, 2010 5:49 PM   Subscribe

What do you call this kind of setting (in art)? What are your favorite examples?

Picture a stereotypical wizard's study or laboratory, full of potions, dusty old tomes, astrolabes, owls, and skulls. And the classical witch's kitchen, with much of the same stuff but creepier, plus maybe cats, bats, cauldrons or broomsticks.

What are some of the oldest and/or most exemplary pictorial examples of this kind of scene, and is there an all-inclusive name for it? Are there good examples that tie these things closely to real history (Druidic tradition, Voodoo, alchemists)? Or even photos or screen caps if you have some really good ones.

Similar but different scenes would be parlors of fortune tellers or a magicians' library, with tarot cards, crystal balls, imps, etc. Also related but very different would be depictions of Black Sabbaths or Bacchanalia. The latter would be too dissimilar because I am thinking more like locations than events.

authentic looking fake > earnest but hokey
awesome haunted attraction > food-court wiccan
posted by rahnefan to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Here's some examples for witches, scroll down and you'll see several paintings from the early 1600s
posted by nomadicink at 5:59 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

While it's not exactly brimming with alchemical sundry, I've always thought this picture of Circe by John William Waterhouse was a cool portrayal. And "An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump", by Joseph Wright is maybe the kind of historical reference you're after?
posted by lhall at 6:01 PM on December 2, 2010

Sorry, the image in that second link is HUGE. Try this one instead.
posted by lhall at 6:03 PM on December 2, 2010

I guess I would search for images like that with "occult", "pagan", "occult interior", and like that. There isn't a specific term of art (see what I did there?) for it like "still life" or "seascape" or "battle painting" or similar.

The best painting of Druids EVER is Henri Paul Motte's "Druids Cutting the Mistletoe".
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:07 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

The "Bird in the Air Pump" is one of the best pictures ever. Joseph Wright of Derby was a genius. But that's a painting of real (if cruel) science.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:08 PM on December 2, 2010

Oh, wait: Here's Wright of Darby painting an alchemist doing science by accident. That's a fantastic painting--I found it by looking for the more-famous Jan Steen paintings of alchemists, also linked there.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:10 PM on December 2, 2010

Images of Rossetti's Golblin Market?
posted by canoehead at 6:58 PM on December 2, 2010

N. C. Wyeth's Alchemist seems iconic to me. Here's a few others.
posted by dpcoffin at 11:58 AM on December 3, 2010

Witches in a Cellar by Jacques (or Jacob) de Gheyn II.
posted by misteraitch at 7:01 AM on December 4, 2010

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