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Salvatore Rosa and His Obsession with Dark Aesthetics & Witchcraft.

Vaishnavi Srivastava

20th June 2023. ON THIS DAY.

One could call Salvatore Rosa a painter turned hipster. Famous for his satiric nature and flamboyance, the artist was known to land himself in bad blood with the artistic and intellectual communities in each city he set foot in. This nature in particular led him to move cities quite often. His works had a diverse range of subjects. From the Bible and mythology to battle scenes and witchcraft. Painting, however, was not the only profession the artist dabbled in, for he was also known to be a famous poet and an actor. 

Some of his most famous works are known for their dark aesthetics. Known for his Baroque style of art, the artist’s works were dominated by witchcraft which was one of the biggest themes in the Renaissance and Baroque eras which continued on to the Romantic age as well. Rosa’s fascination with witchcraft stemmed from the prevailing cultural climate of the time. The Renaissance and Baroque periods were marked by a resurgence of interest in the occult and the supernatural. Witches, in particular, were both feared and revered, embodying a mysterious and seductive power that captivated the collective imagination. Rosa tapped into this zeitgeist, creating works that explored the ambiguous nature of witchcraft, blurring the line between good and evil, beauty and malevolence.

Witches at their Incantations by Rosa.
Courtesy: The National Gallery, London

One of Rosa’s most famous paintings, “Witches at Their Incantations,” epitomizes his obsession with dark aesthetics and witchcraft. In this evocative piece, Rosa transports viewers into the mystical realm of witches as they engage in their mysterious rituals and incantations. The painting depicts a gathering of witches in a dimly lit and foreboding setting. Rosa’s masterful use of chiaroscuro intensifies the atmosphere, with the interplay of light and shadow creating an eerie and captivating ambience.

Beyond his prowess as a painter, Rosa’s creativity spilt over into other artistic domains. He was equally renowned as a poet, crafting verses that echoed his visual explorations. His poems often delved into the mystical and supernatural, mirroring the themes present in his paintings. Additionally, Rosa’s acting skills brought his works to life on stage, further blurring the boundaries between artistic disciplines and highlighting his multidimensional talent.

The Shade of Samuel Appears to Saul.
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

Salvatore Rosa’s unique artistic vision, characterized by his embrace of dark aesthetics and fascination with witchcraft, left an indelible mark on the art world. His ability to capture the enigmatic allure of witches and their magical world through his mastery of the Baroque style ensured his place among the great artists of his time. Despite the controversies and clashes he incited with his satirical nature, Rosa’s contributions to the artistic and cultural landscape continue to be celebrated, solidifying his legacy as an iconoclastic artist ahead of his time.


  • Art UK
  • The Guardian-Bewitched: Salvator Rosa’s Satanic art

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