John R Smith (Artist), Henry Fuseli (After)

Weird Sisters

Weird Sisters by John R Smith, Henry Fuseli

Artwork Detail

This mezzotint is after one of Henri Fuseli’s paintings of the Three Witches (also known as the 'Weird Sisters' from Shakespeare's Macbeth, act 1). The Gallery also owns a smaller oil sketch by Fuseli [1980/8]. The three women are seen in profile with their left arms outstretched and pointing, their right to their lips, looking expectant. Each is wearing a somewhat eccentric bonnet. Above their outstretched hands on the far left hovers a death’s heat moth with the face of a skull.

The picture illustrates the passage in Macbeth, Act I, scene 3 where Banquo enquires:

...What are these,

So wither'd and so wild in their attire,

That look not like th' inhabitants o' th' 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.

Weird Sisters
John R Smith, Henry Fuseli
Production date
colour mezzotint
439 x 406 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2011
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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