The Werewolf Painting of Poligny (Jura)

Werewolf and monster scholarship loves to cite a painting of three werewolves holding knives, supposedly in (or once in) Poligny, in the Jura, in the Church of the Jacobins (i.e., a Dominican church). For example, see Collin de Plancy, Dictionnaire infernal, ou Recherches et anecdotes sur les démons (501, s.v. Michel Verdun); Charles Thuriet, Traditions populaires du Jura (66, and sorry for no Gallica or archive.org link); and more recently, well, this google search should work.

The ultimate source seems to be Henry Boguet’s Discours exécrable des sorciers, 123, from 1603.

Here’s an English translation, from Charlotte Otten’s Lycanthropy Reader, 89:

And if anyone ask with what instrument witches, when appearing to be wolves, effect the death of those whom they kill, I shall answer that they have only too many contrivances for this purpose. For sometimes they use knives and swords, as did Perrenette Gandillon, who killed Benoist Bidel with his own knife, and therefore he who painted the three were-wolves of Poligny represented them as each carrying a knife in its right paw.

Que si quelqu’un desire de sçavoir avec quel instrument les sorciers estans en apparence de loup dónent la mort aux personnes qu’ils tuent, je luy diray qu’ils n’ont que trop d’inventions pour cela: car quelquefois ils se servent de cousteaux, et de glaives, comme nous avons dict de Perrentte Gadillo, qui tua Benoist Bidel se son propre cousteau: et je tiens, que c’est la raison pour laquelle celuy qui a depeint trois loups garoux de Pouligny leur faict porter à chacun un cousteau en la patte dextre. (French very roughly edited by me, some early modern spellings preserved)

I’ve been trying to track down the painting. No luck. Poligy’s tourist board says nothing about it, and no one on flickr gives me a picture. Nothing on Wikipédia either.

So! Conversation on the MEARCSTAPA listserv has been very helpful in leading me to believe that while the painting might once have existed, it may also just be lost. I’m inclined to think it’s as legendary as the “lost” pig execution painting of Falaise, Normandy, well-known to animal trial scholars as the greatest artistic loss in human  (and porcine) history.

Have any of you ever seen it? Or seen it reproduced? Citoyens de Poligny, aidez-moi !

(h/t, merci bcp to Zachary Fisher for sending me towards the image above, which is from here, page 17, and case not of lyncanthropy but rather hypertrichosis)

Advertisements