Frans Francken the Younger is the most famous representative of the Antwerp painter-dynasty.
These kind of rare subjects (Witchcrafts, Witches Sabaths, Witches Kitchens) seemed to have been rather popular in the Francken family and were also treated by Hieronimus II Francken . They recall the traditional conception of the witches oscillating between beauty and horror, sensuality and lust.
The woman in rich dress in the center (presumedly a prostitute because of the red socks she is wearing) seems to have sold her soul in exchange for becoming attractive and seductive (eg the raised red sock revealing her naked knee and the loose hairs). On the right side a witch is giving instructions; on her left side a monster is preparing potions. On the background naked figures are worshipping a skeleton and witches are stirring a soup with a spouting "blood-fontain".
The background is also filled with symbols of christianity, Jewism, mysticism and kabala. The "main de gloire" on the fireplace is the most significant symbol of witchcraft.
Comparable works by Francken but with another composition in the Drefus-Brest collection (Witches Kitchen, Bazel), Victoria and Albert Museum (Witches Kitchen, London), Alte Pinakothek (Witches kitchen, Münich) and the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Witches kitchen,Vienna).
Oil on Copper, 27 x 18,5cm