A procession with Faust and Marguerite outside a church, watched by Mephistopheles.
|Title:||A procession with Faust and Marguerite outside a church, watched by Mephistopheles.|
|Artist:||Circle of Jacques Joseph Tissot (19th century)|
|Detail:||Oil on panel.18 x 22 in. Frame: 23 x 27 in. Christie’s stencils verso. Provenance: Lot 134, Christie's, November 1929.|
Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902) Anglicized as James Tissot, was a French painter and illustrator. He was a successful painter of Paris society before moving to London in 1871. He became famous as a genre painter of fashionably dressed women shown in various scenes of everyday life. He also painted scenes and characters from the Bible.
In the early 1860s, in an effort to regenerate history painting, Tissot was seeking new subjects and a new style. He was strongly influenced by the work of the Belgian painter and engraver Jan August Hendrik Leys, Baron Leys (1815-1869). In 1855, Leys was awarded a medal of honour at the Universal Exhibition in Paris,and painted at least one scene derived from Goethe’s Faust (Faust and Marguerite, Philadelphia Museum of Art, oil on panel).
Critics had been delighted with the high quality of Tissot’s reconstructions of centuries past through costume and architecture, the realistic poses and facial expressions, the rigorous drawing and the brightness of the colours. It is exactly these attributes that are found in Tissot’s ‘The Meeting of Faust and Marguerite, which was purchased by the state in 1860 for the Luxemburg Gallery(now in the Musée d’Orsay). Moreover, like Leys in his painting Promenade hors les murs (Belgium, Royal Collections), a painting exhibited in 1855, the young French painter took his inspiration for the subject from Goethe’s Faust* published in 1808.
By taking their inspiration from works of literature, these artists revived the subjects of history painting, and produced an eclectic pastiche of 15th and 16th century paintings: the smooth finish, the highly detailed drawing recalls the style of the German and Flemish primitives, as do the details in the decoration and the architecture.
The present picture
This fascinating painting is by a very talented artist closely associated with Tissot, and in his lifetime. Sold by Christie’s, London, November 1929, lot 134, auctioneers stencil mark verso. The painting also resembles the work of the Belgian painter who Tissot most admired Jan August Hendrik Leys, Baron Leys (1815-1869), who also painted on panel, and comparisons can be made to his work ‘Albrecht Dürer visiting Antwerp in 1520’.
*Faust: A Tragedy by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, is considered by many as the greatest
work of German literature.
Other early works by Tissot inspired by Goethe’s Faust:
Faust and Marguerite in The Garden- (Musée d’Orsay).
Marguerite in Church (c. 1861-National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.
Marguerite au rampart (by the Rampart, 1861)-Sold Sotheby’s New York 12-10-94. $120,000
Marguerite a l’eglise (in Church)-sold Christies London 25-6-98. £49,000