Brochart’s Witch of Endor, 1873

The above chromo-lithograph by M. Jehenne of Charles Brochart’s ‘Witch of Endor’ appeared as Plate XIII in Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s Woman in Sacred History: A Series of Sketches Drawn from Scriptural, Historical and Legendary Sources … Illustrated with Twenty-Five Chromo-Lithographs, after Paintings by Raphael … and Others; Printed by Monrocq, from Stones executed by Jehenne, Paris (New York: Fords, Howard, & Hulbert, 1873), opposite p.165. (The complete book is available here in B&W; and here are colour pictures of the cover, decorative title and title-page).

The image is rather lifeless and angular, looking more like an icon than a portrait. If we are to judge by the other lithographs in this volume it seems unlikely that either the lithographer, Monsuier Jehenne, or the printer, Monrocq, is to blame. (By way of comparison, here is Hughes Merle’s portrait of Jephthah’s Daughter (with Jephtha seemingly modeled on the stunning Susannah at Her Bath) and Pompeo Batoni’s Mary Magdelene (original here)).

So, it seems Charles Brochart—an absolute nobody, if his representation on the net means anything—is at fault. Which is perhaps why, though six of the twenty-five portraits are by him, Brochart is not mentioned in the list of twelve artists in the title-page (“Raphael, Batoni, Horace, Vernet, Goodall, Landelle, Koehler, Portaels, Vernet-Lecomte, Baader, Merle, and Boulanger and Others”).

Despite Brochart’s lack of talent, however, it is clear that he has attempted to present the Witch of Endor as an attractive young woman. Stowe’s Woman in Sacred History was popular, being translated into Dutch in 1874 (as Vrouwen der Schrift) and reprinted under the title Bible Heroines: Being Narrative Biographies of Prominent Hebrew Women in the Patriarchal, National, and Christian eras in 1878.

Like the 1754 English version of Gerard Hoet’s 1728 artwork I have discussed in two previous posts (here and here), Brochart contributed to the dispersal of what we might call more positive images of the Witch of Endor—the focus of this blog—even if he didn’t do a very good job of it!

5 Responses to “Brochart’s Witch of Endor, 1873”

  1. Hi Red Witch,

    In your post on ‘The Witch of Endor, 1728′, you quoted from the relevant Biblical passage which mentioned two methods of divination used by the Israelites, ‘Urim’ and ‘the Prophets’.

    Just after seeing your latest post on ‘The Witch of Endor’, I was reading the introduction to a mid 19th century translation of the Bodleian Manuscript of The Book of Enoch and came across the following:

    “In treating of Hebrew divination in “The Evolution of Christianity,” we refer to the oracles of Urim and the predictions of Prophets. There was, however, a third form of divination, known as Bath Kol, or the Daughter of the Voice, through which the Israelites consulted the Deity by accepting some preconceived sign in attestation of the Divine approval of contemplated action. This method of artificial (τεχνικη?) divination is said to have succeeded the revelation of prophets, but was practised by the Israelites at a much earlier period of their history. Thus the servant of Abraham predetermined the sign through which he would recognize the future wife of Isaac as divinely chosen; and Jonathan, the son of Saul, preconcerted the verbal omen through which the Israelites might know that Jehovah had delivered the Philistines into their hands.”

    I’d never heard of ‘The Daughter of the Voice’ but I have no doubt that the Witch of Endor was one such. Using the term “The Daughter of …” gives the lie to the modern notion that the Witch of Endor was a crone. She must have been a young woman.

    Thought this would interest you.

  2. Rex Venom Says:

    hey! Where are the Ewoks!
    (Kidding! ha! ha? ha…)
    Rock on!

  3. McCabe Says:

    who owns the rights to this painting?

  4. Daniel van Vliet Says:

    The painting depicted by Hughes Merle is not Jeptha’s daughter, but Susannah and the elders.

  5. Daniel, thank you.

    I have updated the post to make it clear that the model has been copied, rather than the character.

    The title seems to be “Susannah at Her Bath” rather than “Susannah and the elders” (since there are no elders visible). See

    http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/detail.php?ID=29952

    RW

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