191
191

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Henry Fuseli, R.A.
THE VISITATION OF FAUST BY MEPHISTOPHELES
Estimation
35 00045 000
Lot. Vendu 43,750 GBP (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
191

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Henry Fuseli, R.A.
THE VISITATION OF FAUST BY MEPHISTOPHELES
Estimation
35 00045 000
Lot. Vendu 43,750 GBP (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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Henry Fuseli, R.A.
ZÜRICH 1741 - 1825 PUTNEY HEATH
THE VISITATION OF FAUST BY MEPHISTOPHELES
Watercolour and grey wash over pencil, on laid paper watermarked: 1799;
indistinctly signed with the artist's initials and dated, lower right: H.F. (?) July 18 (?) 
314 by 403 mm
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Provenance

Martin Hofer & Leo Blumenreich Gallery, London (acquired between 1910-1914),
Leo Blumenreich (1884-1932), Berlin,
by descent to a Private Collection, Germany,
Private Collection, Germany (acquired from the above in 2009), 
from which acquired by the present owner

Description

In this impressive drawing, Fuseli shows a seated figure, with a writing implement in his right hand, turning his attention from a folio volume to engage with a standing, possibly sexless, figure with a penetrating gaze, making what seems to be a gesture of invitation. In the background, distanced by a grille or window is the looming shape of a horse.  

Although it is impossible to be certain, for Fuseli has not inscribed the sheet with a title, it has been suggested that the scene closely resembles that in the first ‘Studierzimmer’ of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 1808 masterpiece Faust. Part I, in which Dr. Faust’s attempt to translate the Bible is interrupted by the manifestation of Mephistopheles and his first suggestion of the advantages to be had from a pact with the devil.  

There, it should be noted, are a number of details within the drawing that differ from Goethe’s text – such as the age of Faust, the clothes worn by Mephistopheles, and his inclusion of a horse (horses only appear - as suggestions of Mephistopheles’ magic powers - later in the action). This method, however, of selecting and then juggling elements of a source is entirely consistent with Fuseli, whose knowledge of literature was profound and who often enjoyed allowing his imagination to run free.

This drawing has only recently come to the attention of modern day art historians as, for much of the last century, it formed part of the private collection of the descendants of the distinguished art dealer, Leo Blumenreich (1884-1932).    

We would like to thank Martin Butlin, Professor Martin Priestman and Professor William Vaughan for their help when cataloguing this work. 

 

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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Londres