In this representation of act IV, scene 1 of Macbeth, the tragedy’s namesake commands three “secret, black, and midnight hags” to conjure the apparitions who will predict his usurpation of the Scottish throne. One of Delacroix’s first works inspired by Shakespeare, this print is also among the French Romantic’s earliest ventures in lithography. Indeed, its subject and style owe as much to Delacroix’s older contemporary, the Spanish artist Francisco Goya, as to the English bard. The fantastic, supernatural subject recalls Goya’s Caprichos, plates of which the French artist owned and copied, while the handling reveals Delacroix’s close observation of Goya’s lithographic technique. Here, Delacroix worked from dark to light, first covering the lithographic stone with the crayon before scraping away the fine, swirling lines that animate as well as define the design.
witchcraft; figures; darkness; smoke; light
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