Divus Jacobus diabolicis praestigiis ante magum sistitur  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Divus Jacobus diabolicis praestigiis ante magum sistitur[1][2] (St. James is arrested before the magician by diabolical delusions) is an engraving by Hieronymus Cock, after a design by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The print is currently known under the title "St James the Greater at Hermogenes." Dutch scholar Renilde Vervoort claims that this print is the first image to include a witch flying on a witches's broom.

Our cut No. 155 represents a group of these grotesque demons, from a plate by Breughel, engraved in 1565, and entitled Divus Jacobus diabolicis praestigiis ante magum sistitur (St. James is arrested before the magician by diabolical delusions)[3]. The engraving is full of similarly grotesque figures. On the right is a spacious chimney, and up it witches, riding on brooms, are making their escape, while in the air are seen other witches riding away upon dragons and a goat. A kettle is boiling over the fire, around which a group of monkeys are seen sitting and warming themselves. Behind these a cat and a toad are holding a very intimate conversation. In the background stands and boils the great witches' caldron. On the right of the picture the magus, or magician, is seated, reading his grimoire, with a frame before him supporting the pot containing his magical ingredients. The saint occupies the middle of the picture, surrounded by the demons represented in our cut and by many others ; and as he approaches the magician, he is seen raising his right hand in the attitude of pronouncing a benediction, the apparent consequence of which is a frightful explofion of the magician's pot, which strikes the demons with evident consternation. Nothing can be more bizarre than the horse's head upon human legs in armour, the parody upon a crawling spider behind it, the skull (apparently of a horse) supported upon naked human legs, the strangely excited animal behind the latter, and the figure furnished with pilgrim's hood and staff, which appears to be mocking the saint. --History of Caricature and Grotesque in Literature and Art by Thomas Wright, 1865

The scene references the The Golden Legend.

See also

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