Photogravure of The Vision of Faust, 1893
Two weeks ago, in my post on “The Vision by Falero” (1880), I mentioned the photogravure of this painting that appeared in Clarence Lansing, The Nude in Art (Boston, 1893), a scarce and valuable volume of high-quality prints.
I thought some of you might like to see more detail of the photogravure so, in between scanning Swedish Easter Witch postcards (I will do another post on these next week, then return to Falero), I scanned the same three parts of Falero’s painting that I reproduced in my previous post. That way you can compare the photogravure with the original painting.
Comparing the above images, it is obvious that some detail is lost, and much of the impact is reduced by rendering the rich flesh colours in grayscale. But if you look at a very detailed scan of one of the faces, you can also see the “subtle rich texture” that is so characteristic of photogravures. It is a trade-off, no doubt, but if you can’t have the original … it is still very nice.
Finally, Angela Caperton noticed “an interesting detail” in this photogravure: “the little witch on a broom” that has been “added to Falero’s work, as if the person that added it wanted to make sure everyone knew what they were looking at?” (See a detailed scan here.)
Exactly. My theory is that the hag-witch image is so deeply ingrained (partly because of the moral requirement for bad people—and witches were unquestionably thought to be evil—to be ugly and/or to die early and painful deaths) that it has taken a over a century of exposure to images such as this one for people to recognise an attractive, young woman as a witch without all the diabolical aspects that we see in nineteenth-century artworks and popular images. A procession of beautiful young women dressing as witches once a year for Halloween over the last century has certainly helped this process of “re-education.” The aim of this blog is to act as a more constant reminder: once per week instead of one per year! (Or in this case, as a special Easter treat, twice per week!)