Painters Paintings John William Waterhouse (1849 – 1917): The Magic Circle, 1886, oil on canvas, 88…

Painters Work John William Waterhouse (1849 – 1917): The Magic Circle, 1886, oil on canvas, 88 x 60 cm, Personal assortment


Miracles, magic and the facility of prophecy are widespread themes in Waterhouse’s artwork.

‘The Magic Circle’ was one among his earliest depictions of a topic that preoccupied him for the remainder of his life, the classical sorceress.
The lady on this image seems to be a witch or priestess, endowed with magic powers, probably the facility of prophecy. Her costume and basic look is extremely eclectic, and is derived from a number of sources: she has the swarthy complexion of a girl of middle-eastern origin; her coiffure is like that of an early Anglo-Saxon; her costume is adorned with Persian or Greek warriors. In her left hand she holds a crescent-shaped sickle, linking her with the moon and Hecate. With the wand in her proper hand she attracts a protecting magic circle around her.

She is accompanied by a gaggle of crows and a toad and a serpent is entwining her neck – symbols of the occult. She has poppy-flowers and herbs piled beside the brazier and caught within the belt of her costume – to be burnt as choices to accompany her incantations. Within the background is a cave inside which two shrouded figures are watching her forged her spell.

While the work presents a dramatic picture of fireplace and sacrifice, it depicts a scene that might have been commonplace within the historical Greek and Roman world, the place sorceresses and mystics had been thought to have the ability to appease the gods, change fortunes and produce about love unions. This witch will not be essentially evil and her incantations could as simply be to carry a couple of good harvest than to trigger somebody unwell. It’s only trendy interpretations of one of these picture that carry associations with devil-worship.

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