Collection Online

Arrest for witchcraft

oil on canvas
97.8 × 151.7 cm
inscribed in brown paint l.l.: J. Pettie / 1866
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1876
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
Not on display
This picture ensured Pettie’s election to Associate of the Royal Academy (1866). It was hung in the most advantageous position in the center room of the RA’s exhibition of 1865. The scene is a typical English town at the height of the brutal witch-hunts of the mid seventeenth-century as an old widow who is presumed to be a witch is in the custody of two well armed officials and a soldier carrying a gun. Pettie has heightened the melodrama by exacerbating the contrast between the helpless and crumpled crone and the frenzied mob literally screaming for her blood.