About this artwork

This drawing dates from the time that Runciman left Rome in the autumn of 1771, or possibly from his return to Edinburgh in 1772. It illustrates Macbeth's second encounter with the witches in Shakespeare’s famous play (Act 4, Scene 1). In this drawing the witches are secondary figures. Their leader Hecate addresses Macbeth, and he experiences a vision of an armed head which tells him to beware of his rival Macduff, Thane of Fife. Some of the details derive from Salvator Rosa’s famous painting of 'Saul and the Witch of Endor' (Louvre, Paris), which Runciman would have known as a print.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    The Witches Showing Macbeth the Apparitions
  • date created:
    About 1772
  • materials:
    Pen and brown ink on paper
  • measurements:
    61.20 x 45.80 cm (framed: 84.50 x 59.10 x 2.50 cm)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    David Laing Bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy transferred 1910
  • accession number:
    D 296
  • gallery:
    View by Appointment
  • subject:
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Alexander Runciman

Alexander Runciman

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