Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Agnes Sampson

signature image

Judy Chicago (American, b. 1939). The Dinner Party (Heritage Floor; detail), 1974–79. Porcelain with rainbow and gold luster, 48 x 48 x 48 ft. (14.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 m). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. Photograph by Jook Leung Photography

Agnes Sampson
Date of birth unknown; d. 1592, North Berwick, Scotland

Agnes Sampson was part of the 1590–92 witchcraft trials in North Berwick, Scotland, touched off by the testimony of accused witch Geillis Duncan. The examiners used torture to extract confessions from around seventy people. Sampson was restrained with an instrument called a witch's bridle: four prongs placed in the mouth, then attached to a device fastened to the wall. After being tortured in this manner and deprived of sleep, she confessed to witchcraft and a conspiracy between the devil and the witches of North Berwick to assassinate King James VI. She was strangled to death and her body was burned.

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