Saul and the Witch of Endor, by Antonio Zanchi (1631-1722).

Oil on canvas, 229cm by 274cm.

The Old Testament tells of King Saul consulting a witch for advice on war.

She berated him for his lack of faith in God and predicted his death. His army was subsequently defeated and Saul was killed.

The painting was purchased by John, 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700), whilst on the Grand Tour and is recorded in the 1688 Burghley Inventory: ‘The Plaster Dineing Roome & Clossett…..1 piece of Saul & ye witch of Endor by Zanchi of Venice.’

Zanchi was born in Este in the Veneto. He was mainly active in Venice, but was a prolific artist and his paintings can be seen in many northern Italian towns and cities.


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