Francesco Zuccarelli: Macbeth Meeting the Witches

See more paintings in Painting Shakespeare.

On view in the Painting Shakespeare exhibition
May 13, 2017 – Feb 11, 2018 

Curated by Erin Blake

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Francesco Zuccarelli's "Macbeth Meeting the Witches"

Francesco Zuccarelli. Macbeth Meeting the Witches. Oil on canvas, 1760. Folger Shakespeare Library.

Item Title: 
Macbeth meeting the witches [graphic] / Zuccarelli fecit / 1760.
Item Call Number: 
FPa89
Item Creator: 
Zuccarelli, Francesco, 1702-1788, artist.
Item Date: 
1760

Can you identify Macbeth, Banquo, and the Witches? Instead of Shakespeare's "blasted heath" in Scotland, the characters in Francesco Zuccarelli's Macbeth Meeting the Witches (1760) appear in the kind of fantasy landscape typically associated with 18th-century Italy. However, their attire reflects traditional Scottish dress, with kilts and tartan stockings.

According to William L. Pressly’s A Catalogue of Paintings in the Folger Shakespeare Library, it is one of the earliest paintings from this play. “It is a remarkable example of epic or historical landscape, a genre originating with the Franco-Italian artists Poussin and Claude Lorraine,” Pressly writes. “The painting is a reflection of aristocratic Italianate tastes.”

Macbeth Meeting the Witches was selected for the Painting Shakespeare exhibition as a work of fine art that exemplifies the best of eighteenth-century painting.

See more paintings in Painting Shakespeare.