We have been lucky to recently acquire these two incredibly rare woodblocks, originally used to illustrate The History of Witches and Wizards, 1720. John Crabb, author of Graven Images: The Art of the Woodcut, writes – ‘Most of the really iconic images found on the internet today come from just one collection, The History of Witches and Wizards: Giving a True Account of All Their Tryals in England, Scotland, Sweedland, France, and New England … Collected … By W. P. (1720). Here we find witches and demons dancing together, wax poppets baptised by the devil, spirits leaping from a circle of flames, and a feast at the witches’ sabbath. This is an energetic and dynamic portrayal of witchcraft, much more tantalising than old women with chips on their shoulders. Whether the authors intended it or not, they managed to make witchcraft seem rather exciting and attractive. The stories are easy, compelling reads and the images feature young men and women doing extraordinary things. There is also a clear undercurrent of eroticism running through the book. There are numerous mentions of carnal acts, lusty satyrs, undressings, drunken feasts, love spells, and devilish, handsome men appearing to innocent, young maids.’
The blocks will be on display next season.