My third post on witches in the art of Luis Falero (1851–96) is on “Faust’s Vision,” more recently known as “La Rêve de Faléro” or “The Vision by Falero.” This painting features a crowd of witches (at left)—like last week’s Departure of the Witches of 1878—but also Faust and Mephistopheles (at right). The painting is 81.2 x 150.5 cm [32 x 59.25 inches], is signed “Faléro,” and is dated 1880.
The painting has been sold at least twice in the last fifteen years: on 5 May 1995 and 28 October 2003. The most recent of these was as lot 87 at Sotheby’s New York sale of “19th Century European Art including The Great 19th Century Ateliers: Ingres to Bouguereau” [Sale: N07930] with an estimate of only 40—60,000 USD. The vendor was John Morrin of New York.
Like “Departure of the Witches,” valuable information about “Faust’s Vision” appears in Master Painters of the World (1902) [available online here]:
Some years ago the management of a large and popular hotel in this city, having added an elaborate public room to the house, hit upon the idea of attracting attention to it by filling it up with pictures and objects of art. Among the former the most prominent was a world-famous, large canvas by Bouguereau, the “Nymphs Teasing a Satyr,” as the artist christened it, or “Nymphs and Satyr” as it is most generally known, and the painting by which Luis Falero effectively established his reputation, “The Vision of Faust.”
These pictures alone, and they were but part of a number more, cost many thousands of dollars. It has been estimated, by one of the heads of the house, that they alone have paid some ten times their cost in the amount of custom they have attracted, and relatively to the advance in market value of modern paintings of the first class, they could now be sold for double what was paid for them. The picture, in a technical sense, is cerainly Falero’s masterpiece, as far as his productiveness has yet proceeded.
[A local parallel to this is Jules Joseph Lefebvre's Chloé, a famous nude portrait that has graced the walls of the Young and Jackson Hotel in Melbourne since 1909. The painting, of a beautiful nineteen year old Parisian model by the name of Marie, has attracting innumerable patrons to Young and Jackson's in the century it has been in place.]
Not surprisingly,” Falero’s masterpiece” was widely reproduced. This painting appeared in Clarence Lansing, The Nude in Art: A Collection of Reproductions in Photogravure of Celebrated Paintings by the World’s Greatest Masters (Boston, MA, Haskell Pub. Co., 1893) under the title “The vision of Faust.” This work is a large-format (33 x 49 cm [13 x 19 inches]) and quite scarce five-volume portfolio containing about forty-five high-quality prints. I love photogravures and, though I’d prefer the original painting, the print has a lovely, “subtle rich texture” as you can see.
It also appeared on postcards throughout Europe, such as this Russian one: