Witches and Wicked Bodies

From hideous hags to beautiful seductresses, witches have held a magnetic attraction for artists over the centuries. This exhibition studies these malevolent sorceresses in art over the past 500 years.

John William Waterhouse, The Magic Circle, 1886 (detail) © Tate, London

John William Waterhouse, The Magic Circle, 1886 (detail)

This exhibition brings together engravings, drawings and paintings by artists who had a distinctly macabre fascination with witches. The German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer depicted them as sensual, naked beings trampling bones beneath their feet, others, like Francisco de Goya painted them as a disfigured coven worshiping the devil and offering it children to eat.

There is also a contemporary section that looks at modern attitudes to witches. Kiki Smith has made a series of commemorative sculptures in remembrance of the women who were burnt and drowned for simply being different.

Don't miss

William Blake’s feverish visions of the after world were rife with malicious forces.  His pen, ink and watercolour picture, The Whore of Babylon (1809) depicts a buxom wench seated on a particularly ferocious multiple-headed demon that is making mincemeat of some miserable souls.

Also on show is Kiki Smith’s Woman on Pyre (2001) in which a naked, bald headed woman kneels on a stack of wood with her arms outstretched.


Venue details

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art 73/75 Belford Road Edinburgh EH4 3DR 0131 624 6200 www.nationalgalleries.org

Entry details

£3.50 with National Art Pass (standard ticket price £7)

Open daily, 10am – 5pm (10am – 6pm Aug)

Closed 25, 26 Dec

Call 0131 624 6200 or book online at the gallery website.