CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Whereabouts of six artworks depicting witches sought for exhibition on Bruegel and witchcraft in the Low Countries

The director of Musea Brugge, Manfred Sellink asks CODART members for suggestions or possible leads to the current whereabouts of six Dutch and Flemish artworks depicting witches.

Musea Brugge and Museum Catharijneconvent are jointly organising an exhibition at two venues about witches in the art of the Low Countries provisionally titled Women on Broomsticks and Other Phantoms of the Night. Bruegel and Witchcraft in the Low Countries. Dr. Renilde Vervoort, guest curator of the exhibition, demonstrated in her doctoral dissertation that our modern image of the witch can be traced back to the work of Pieter Bruegel. Her book forms the basis for the exhibition.

The exhibition will be the first time that the finest depictions of witches in Dutch and Flemish art will go on show together. Great masters like Pieter Bruegel, Frans Francken II and David Teniers the Younger portrayed witches in all their guises. It is not just paintings and prints that will be on display, but illustrated manuscripts and historic objects as well. Loans are being requested from home and abroad. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-colour publication. The exhibition will be on display in Utrecht from 19 September 2015 to 31 January 2016 and in Bruges from 10 March to 26 June 2016.


Renilde Vervoort is currently trying to locate the following works in private collections:

Jacob Isaacz van Swanenburgh, Witches’ Sabbath in Roman ruins, oil on copper, 27 x 37 cm, sold by Renard, Paris 2008 


Attributed to Sebastiaan Vrancx or Jacob Isaacz van Swanenburgh, Witches’ Sabbath in Roman ruins, oil on panel, 74 x 109 cm, sold by Peter Muhlbauer from Pocking about six to seven years ago


Claes Dircksz van der Heck, Witches’ Sabbath in a ruine, oil on panel, 63 x 115 cm, sold at Tajan in Paris 1991


Cornelis Saftleven, Witches’ Kitchen, oil on copper (?),
sold by Rafael Valls, Londen

Cornelis Saftleven, Sorceress, drawing, 18 x 27 cm,
Sotheby’s Amsterdam in 2000


Attributed to Bartholomeus Spranger or Frans Verbeeck, Witches’ Sabbath, two versions, oil on panel, 74 x 108 cm, private collection in Paris and 71 x 94 cm, collection Rolf Toussaint in München

If you are aware of any other witchcraft representations by Dutch or Flemish masters (1450-1700), we would greatly appreciate your information about these. We assume there are still quite a number of unknown works in private collections. It would be a great opportunity to show these ‘discoveries’ to the public.

If you have any information concerning these artworks, please get in touch with Dr. Renilde Vervoort, guest curator.