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Art History

SENIOR PROJECTS AND STUDENT RESEARCH

Erika Mikhailova ’11
Bosch and Breugel: Bedknobs and Broomsticks: A Study of Witchcraft, Heresy, and Hypocrisy
Up until the 1950’s, the more bizarre work of sixteenth century Flemish artist Peter Bruegel the Elder and his stylistic predecessor Hieronymus Bosch were largely regarded by scholars as droll flights of fantasy. Erika has built upon scholarship that identifies sociopolitical criticism and counterculture religious overtones within these artists’ work, which opposes the Spanish rule of the Netherlands and the Inquisition. She examines the themes of heresy, witchcraft, and hypocrisy within a selection of Bruegel’s paintings and etching sketches, linking them to the writings of Dirk Coornhert, a Spiritualist author who refuted the reality of witchcraft and opposed corporal punishment, and Jan Wier, a student of Cornelius Agrippa, known as the “father of psychiatry,” who argued that the symptoms of witchcraft were psychosomatic and not demonic possessions.