Email

A Witch’s Brew

Oct 26, 2015

Tate; (c) Tate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

(Second Witch, Scene I, Macbeth)

 

Maite Gomez-Rejón of Art Bites is inspired. In October 2014, the Huntington acquired Henry Fuseli‘s famed The Three Witches based on the Weird Sisters in Macbeth. This Halloween, Gomez-Rejón leads an art history conversation then heads into the kitchen to supervise the makings of a Halloween/Macbeth/Three Witches-inspired feast.

Our gratitude to Maite for providing on such short notice a run-down of the lecture and workshop (in her own words)…

The focus of the class is The Three Witches by Henry Fuseli because it’s perfect for Halloween, but before seeing it, I will take the group to the museum library and talk about the history of food in England. We’ll start with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and talk about food and literature during the Middles Ages, then make a quick stop at the Gutenberg Bible and talk about the history of printing (after the Bible, cookbooks were the most printed books in Europe), and also discuss the diet of England.

 

Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse by Joshua Reynolds, 1784

Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse by Joshua Reynolds, 1784

 

By the time we get to Shakespeare, many New World foods and exotic spices had become the norm in 17th century cooking. From there, we’ll transition to the Sarah Siddon’s painting by Joshua Reynolds (she famously portrayed Lady Macbeth in 18th century England), before ending with the The Three Witches. We’ll talk about the painting, the politics of 18th century England and the role of food (and hunger) in Macbeth. Then we’ll head to the kitchen and participate in the hands-on cooking component. My classes are always completely hands-on.

We usually prepare a 6-course meal. The menu this time will be inspired by the Middle Ages, Elizabethan foods, Macbeth, especially the witch’s curses. After everything is ready, we lay out a buffet and enjoy a group meal.

Menu:

  • Eyes of Newt Deviled Eggs: The word devil says it all.
  • Bloody Beet Soup: It’s Halloween. A red soup in a boiling cauldron seems appropriate.
  • Snake Fritters: These are onion fritters; during Chaucer’s time, onions we considered peasant fare and were thought to be bad for one’s complexion, which naturally made me think of witches.
  • Moving Broccolini Trees: Moving trees were one of the witches’ prophecies.
  • Lizard’s Leg Spiced Pork Tenderloin: Lizard’s leg went into the cauldron and was part of the witches’ curse. Here pork tenderloin takes its place. It’s cooked with the spices popular during Shakespeare’s time.
  • Sleepwalking Shortbread Cookies: Since the play takes place in Scotland, it makes sense to make shortbread cookies. We’ll dip them in chocolate and put red sprinkles on them inspired by Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene when she tries to wash the blood off her hands.

 

Henry Fuseli, Lady Macbeth Seizing the Daggers, 1780; Tate Museum, London

Henry Fuseli, Lady Macbeth Seizing the Daggers, 1780; Tate, London

 

Taste of Art: A Witch’s Brew
Saturday, Oct. 31st, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
The Huntington, 1151 Oxford
Cost: $85, members; $100, non-members
Purchase tickets here
For more info, visit Huntington.org
Or ArtBites.net/classes/a-witchs-brew

 

Henry Fuseli, The Three Witches; courtesy photo, The Huntington

Henry Fuseli, The Three Witches, circa 1782; courtesy photo, The Huntington

 

The Huntington acquired The Three Witches in October 2014. Jessica Gelt of the L. A. Times wrote:

Two other versions of “The Three Witches” are housed at the Kunsthaus Zurich… and at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. The Huntington’s painting appears to be a study made before those full-size, final versions.

The Huntington is particularly excited about the acquisition because it dovetails with the museum’s collections of work by the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds and the poet Willam Blake, both of whom were close to, and influenced by, Fuseli.

The Huntington also has one of the world’s finest collections of Shakespeare folios and quartos, so the subject matter of “The Three Witches” is an added bit of synchronicity.

A quote, most likely provided by Fuseli himself, is written on the reverse side of the painting and on its gilded frame. From Aeschylus’ tragedy “The Eumenides,” the quote reads: “These are women but I call the Gorgons.”

(“Fuseli’s ‘The Three Witches’ Comes to the Huntington,” by Jessica Gelt/L. A. Times, Oct. 2014)

 

Before it's public debut at the Huntington in October 2014, The Three Witches needed some TLC by art restorer Christina O'Connell

Before it’s public debut at the Huntington in October 2014, The Three Witches needed some TLC by art restorer Christina O’Connell; “More Than Meets the Eye,” Huntington Blogs

 

 

The source for the painting is Macbeth, Act I, scene iii, lines 39-47, when Banquo and Macbeth meet the Weird Sisters on the heath and Banquo says,

. . . What are these,
So wither’d and so wild in their attire,
That look not like th’ inhabitants o’ the earth,
And yet are on’t? Live you? or are you aught
That man may question? You seem to understand me,
By each at once her choppy finger laying
Upon her skinny lips: you should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so.

(English.Emory.edu)

 

Henry Fuseli, Macbeth, Banquo, and the Witches, 1794; National Trust Images/Derrick E. Witty

Henry Fuseli, Macbeth, Banquo, and the Witches, 1794; National Trust Images/Derrick E. Witty

 

 

SCENE I. A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron.

Thunder. Enter the three Witches

First Witch

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.

Second Witch

Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.

Third Witch

Harpier cries ‘Tis time, ’tis time.

First Witch

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

ALL

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Third Witch

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

ALL

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch

Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

 

Henry Fuseli, 1778. Portrait by James Northcote. National Portrait Gallery, London, England

Henry Fuseli, 1778. Portrait by James Northcote. National Portrait Gallery, London, England

 

 

~~~

 

Painting, top right: Joshua Reynolds, The Thames from Richmond Hill (1788). On view at the Tate, London.




Discussion



Fiore

Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena

Search