Archive for the 19thC Category

Tam O’Shanter Jug, 1835

Posted in 19thC, SFW, Tam O'Shanter on 1 August 2009 by redwitch1

This cream relief-moulded Tam O’Shanter jug and pewter lid, was manufactured by William Ridgway in Stoke on Trent, England, from 1 October 1835. I have seen examples—usually without their lid—in pale shades of blue, brown, green, yellow, cream and white. I have also seen another jug, a companion piece, of Tam O’Shanter and Souter Johnnie (see pictures here and here).

The jug depicts, in shallow relief, two scenes from Burns’s poem. The first is from the start of the poem, when Tam O’Shanter and Souter Johnnie are drinking; the second is from the end of the poem, where Tam is being chased by a “winsome wench” (Nannie, a young witch) in a “cutty sark” (a short smock, or negligee). Tam races for the bridge (since a witch can’t cross running water): Nannie was “so close at his heels, that [she] actually sprung to seize him: but it was too late; nothing was on her side of the stream but the horse’s tail, which immediately gave way to her infernal grip, as if blasted by a stroke of lightning.” (This is Burns’s prose explanation of 1790; for full details of the poem, see here).

Tam, Souter Johnnie and Nannie were depicted many times (in paintings, illustrations to books, pot-lids, postcards etc), and I have done quite a few posts on this blog concerning the various ways in which Nannie has been depicted—including this shallow relief ivorex panel from 1910—but this is the earliest by about two decades.

Invisible Brocken Witches, ca. 1899

Posted in 19thC, Brocken, chromolithograph, Postcard on 24 July 2009 by redwitch1

Here is another German postcard celebrating the witches of Brocken Mountain, specifically the plateau known as the Hexentanzplatz [the witches’ dancing place]. Can you see the witches? If you are not a witch, then “Bitte gegen das Licht halten” [please hold against the light].

Now you should be able to see thirty figures in five groups. In the sky, at top-left is a goat with search-light eyes illuminating the way, followed by six witches on brooms and a devil and witch closely embraced. Immediately below the hotel (with windows nicely illuminated), and slightly to the left, is a couple, four single witches (one on a broom, another wearing a pointy hat), a cat and a dog. Immediately below them, and slightly to the right, are seven figures, two of whom are embracing, while one is on a broom. Immediately below this group, is a witch and a goat, to the left of whom is the final group: of three witches and a cat. So, we have: 24 witches (3 male), 1 devil, 2 goats, 2 cats and a dog, quite a crowd!

[detail of top-left]

The postcard is captioned “Gruss vom Hexentanzplatz” [Greetings from the witch's dancing place], “Bitte gegen das Licht halten” and “‘Meteor’ D. R. G. M. 88690″ at the top-right and “No. 200″ at the bottom-left. “Meteor” was a Berlin publisher (i.e. Berlin, Internationaler Verlag “Meteor”), while D.R.G.M. stands for “Deutsches Reich Gebrauchsmuster” [German Reich Registered Design], so “88690” is a copyright number. I presume “No. 200″ is a series number. This card has not been posted, but other cards with this copyright number are postmarked 1899 or 1900 (if you Google “88690” and “Meteor” you will find this epilepsy-inducing page of Hold-to-light postcards, among many others).

And, for the record, I justify including this fabulous card on the basis that at least some of our witches are attractive and a few are nude. Admittedly, most are misshapen lumps, but Venus herself is nearly mono-breasted in the Tannhäuser card published by Meteor (click on no. 16 here). So, clearly, the publisher did the best they could to depict twenty-one sexy witches, but the task was beyond them. I have another HTL (hold-to-light) Brocken postcard, with fewer—and sexier—witches, but I haven’t scanned it yet, so you will have to wait and see that invisible sexy witches are possible!

Another Faléro Study, 1877

Posted in 19thC, Falero, Painting, PSFW on 9 May 2009 by redwitch1

I really must be very slow. You would think that my recent revelation that “Witches Gathering” aka “Sorcieres qui vont au Sabbat” was actually a study for “Departure of the Witches” would have made look a little closer at this little painting, titled “Study of a Witch”:

If I had, I might have realised that it is quite likely to be a another study for “Departure of the Witches.” In this case, only a single detail, the figure on the left. The composition is not identical, so it is not certain, but both Faléro studies were sold by Bonhams in New York on 26 January 2007 (New York Sale 14650, European Paintings: Including Old Masters and 19th Century Drawings, Lot no. 124), and both studies are inscribed by the artist’s son on the reverse. Anyway, here—again—is the detail and the full painting:

The study (at top, above) is 185 x 234mm, the full painting (below) 1455 x 1182 mm.

The inscription on the study reads “Etude de Sorciere N.22 / par Louis Falero / de la collection d’ebauches / et oeuvres inedites / signe par son fils / R Falero” [Study of a Witch No. 22 / by Louis Falero / from the collection of sketches and / unpublished works / Signed by his son / R. Falero]. The number should give us pause: study number twenty-two! I wonder how many of these studies are still circulating out there, and how many books—my only assets—I will to have to sell to buy one…

Luis Ricardo Faléro Pages

Posted in 19thC, Falero, index on 9 May 2009 by redwitch1


Luis Ricardo Faléro painted a series of canvases featuring witches. I have done a number of posts on these paintings, including comparisons of different versions of individual compositions or different reproductions of them. These are:

  • Study for Departure of the Witches, 1877
  • Another Study for Departure of the Witches, 1877
  • Departure of the Witches, 1878
  • The Vision of Faust, 1880
  • Luis Falero’s Witch, 1880
  • Photogravure of The Vision of Faust, 1893
  • Study for Departure of the Witches, 1877

    Posted in 19thC, Falero, NSFW, Painting on 2 May 2009 by redwitch1

    As I have explained before, many of Faléro’s paintings are not titled, and so they have a number of modern names. And since this is true of many paintings with similar subject-matter (witches), different paintings by Falero have ended up with the same name. Which is very confusing.

    In today’s example, a painting that was titled “Witches Gathering” when it was sold for USD3,585—with another Falero painting—by Bonhams in New York on 26 January 2007 (New York Sale 14650, European Paintings: Including Old Masters and 19th Century Drawings, Lot no. 124) turns out to have an inscription from the artist’s son on the reverse which reads “Sorcieres qui vont au Sabbat No. 11 / par Louis Falero / de la collection d’ebauches et / oeuvres inedites/ Signe par son fils/R.Falero” [Witches going to the Sabbat No. 11 / by Louis Falero / from the collection of sketches and / unpublished works / Signed by his son / R. Falero]. So, this painting seems to have two titles.

    As it turns out, “Witches Gathering” aka “Sorcieres qui vont au Sabbat” aka “Witches going to the Sabbat” is actually a study for “Departure of the Witches” (1878) aka “Vision de Faust” or “Faust’s Vision.” This is clear as soon as we compare the two canvases, even though the study is 240 x 178 mm and the painting is 1455 x 1182 mm! I presume this was not mentioned by Bonhams because neither the vendor nor the auction house realised that it was the same painting.

    You may be thinking that I should have mentioned in my previous post on Luis Ricardo Faléro’s “Departure of the Witches” that I also had images of Faléro’s original study for that composition. The problem is, that I didn’t know either. It was only recently that I realised that the two paintings were the same. Now that I have realised, I can present you with image-by-image comparisons of the two and I will update my previous post.

    Since this study is just that, a study, it does not have the meticulous finish that Falero is famous for, but it has a wonderful energy and great splashes of colour. And it is also always interesting to see the steps a painter goes through to produce such a wonderful canvas. (For another example of this see my post on Albert Welti’s “Walpurgisnacht” (1896-97) here.)

    * * * * *

    Photogravure of The Vision of Faust, 1893

    Posted in 19thC, Falero, Photogravure, PSFW on 11 April 2009 by redwitch1

    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!)

    Faust’s Vision, 1880

    Posted in 19thC, Falero, Painting, PSFW on 28 March 2009 by redwitch1

    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:

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