Liebeszauber is a late 15th century painting which portrays a young, naked witch

‘Liebeszauber’ (love charm) is a late 15th century painting which portrays a young, naked witch. The painting is by the master of the Lower Rhine (that is, attributed to a specific painter whose works are known, but whose name is not known), around 1470-80.

According to “Sexy Witch” (whose blog page is now password protected) this is a painting about love, witches, potions, and eroticism. Note the voyeur peering from behind the door at back; her nakedness, youth and beauty. Our own view (as he/she notes) is much better: we see all of her secrets. We are voyeurs, too. This witch is young and lusty and entirely exposed to us – both her body and her desires. “Sexy witch” goes on to point to her poulaines (pointy shoes) on her feet. This is about arousal, and sexual feminine aggression. Men wore Crakows with poulaines (the long, pointy bit) and used them under the table to wriggle between women’s thighs opposite, “prodding their private parts.” She is prepared to return the favour, though maybe it’s wishful thinking on the part of the artist. Wikipedia says women didn’t tend to wear poulaines, and we don’t think many men would find being stabbed in the crotch erotic.

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