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3 Images and Witchcraft Studies: A Short History

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Chapter Summary

Our understanding and use of witchcraft images has changed dramatically over the last four decades. Prior to the 1970s there were few works that paid any detailed attention to the development of an iconography of witchcraft or to the role that visual imagery might have played in the history of the European witch-hunt. From the turn of the twentieth century, there were attempts to collect images pertaining to demonology, magic and witchcraft. The first focused consideration of the role of visual images in the history of European witchcraft came with the 1973 catalogue to an exhibition mounted at the Bibliothéque Nationale by Maxime Préaud, a curator in the Department of Prints. Préaud's exhibition, the first dedicated to the subject of witchcraft, primarily prints, but also some drawings, paintings and manuscript illuminations, signified a major breakthrough in the approach to such images.

Keywords: Bibliothéque Nationale; European witchcraft; Maxime Préaud



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