Homann view of witches at a Walpurgisnacht celebration

Homann Heirs, PERSPECTIVISCHE VORSTELLUNG des berühmten BLOCKEN ODER BLOCKENBERGS… [Nuremburg], 1749.
Engraving, 18 ½”h x 22”w plus margins, traces of spot color
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A wonderful bird’s-eye view showing witches at a Walpurgis Night gathering atop the Brocken, the highest peak of Germany’s Harz Mountains.

Walpurgisnacht is an ancient central European celebration with Christian and pagan origins, intended to welcome the Spring and drive away evil spirits. It takes place on the night of April 30-May 1, when legend has it that witches gather to dance atop the Brocken (better known today as the “Brocken”).

This view is dominated by the Blocksberg as seen from the east, mis-represented as a narrow conical peak and shown wildly out of proportion to the surrounding mountains. Many surrounding peaks and other landmarks of the Harz region are identified, as are the numerous villages and towns in the valley below. The real action though is at the Blocksberg’s flattened summit—labeled the “fabulose Hexen Platz,” or “legendary witches’ place”—where a witch dances with the devil. Other witches fly to the gathering, some mounted on brooms and others on goats. The title is framed by a draped banner borne aloft by an owl and two fantastical birds.

In 1751 Homann’s Heirs issued a second state with a long annotation explaining that the witches are merely the product of the engraver’s imagination and not to be taken seriously!

Condition

Rather aggressively washed at some time, with loss to spot color. Minor fraying at upper and lower margins. Lined on verso.