The Cruelty of Witchcraft: The Drawings of Jacques de Gheyn the Younger
The witchcraft images of the early seventeenth-century Dutch artist, Jacques de Gheyn II, depict the activities of witches as imaginative fantasy, and stand out for the extreme cruelty and violence they display. This chapter explores the reasons for these new emphases. Although De Gheyn used his skills in depicting nature to heighten the impact of his images, his intellectual networks make clear that they were not meant to represent social reality. Rather, they represent the beliefs of witches themselves, whose imaginations (following theorists like Weyer and Scot) had become disordered through compromised humoral flows. They are also works of artistic imagination that communicate the inability of witches to weep, to feel compassion and empathy, one of the defining characteristics of Christianity through this period.