Archive for the Falero Category

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/ signe par son fils / R Falero” [Study of a Witch No. 22 / by Louis Falero / from the collection of sketches and / unpublished works / Signed by his son / R. Falero].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:

    Departure of the Witches, 1878

    Posted in 19thC, Brocken, Falero, Painting, PSFW on 21 March 2009 by redwitch1

    Like his Muse of the Night (1880), Luis Ricardo Faléro’s “Departure of the Witches” is signed and dated but not titled: so it has a number of modern names. (Given the subject-matter it is no surprise that this painting is now known as the “Vision de Faust” or “Faust’s Vision,” though I prefer “Departure of the Witches” for obvious reasons.) It has also changed hands twice in recent years.

    The painting was referred to in Master Painters of the World. Biography, Art Education and Art Work of One Hundred & Eighteen World-renowned Artists, with … Reproductions of Their Famous Paintings (Chicago: The White City Art Co., 1902) [available online here]:

    Another example of the fantastic invention of Luis Falero is presented in “The Departure of the Witches.” This is a section from one of his famous pictures whose suggestion he derived from his studies of the Faust legend, and is a composition worthy of those creative geniuses in ancient art who followed the lead of Holbein and made “The Dance of Death” a vehicle for the free fling of their fecund imagination. The idea is, of course, that the witches and warlocks and their hideous attendants making their annual aerial flight to their common congregation place upon the Brocken, as veraciously detailed in the old legend.

    This large canvas (145.5cm x 118.2cm [57 1/4 x 46 1/4 inches]) has appeared at auction twice this millennium: on 18 October 2000 and 28 October 2003. The most recent of these was as lot 85 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 100—150,000 USD.

    The Sotheby’s catalogue (online) tells us that the painting was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1880 [no. 380] and that it has been discussed by Francis Jourdain in “L’art officiel de Jules Grevy à Albert Lebrun,” Le Point, revue artistique et littéraire [Paris] 37 (April 1949): 14 (where it is illustrated). The Sotheby’s catalogue continues:

    Luis Falero trained in Paris as a portraitist and developed a fascination for painting highly detailed renderings of the female nude. His hyper-realist style often set women in fantastical or mythologic settings, which gave Falero the freedom to explore wild scenes of otherwise indecorous subjects. Vision de Faust, like other examples of Falero’s best work, was awarded entry into the Salon and the artist was much admired for his engrossing visions.

    The Faust legend, immortalized for European culture by Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, enjoyed renewed interest for 19th century society due to the popular Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Marlowe’s Faust, in Renaissance style, was a morality play in which the pride of a tragic hero causes his downfall. For the nineteenth-century Romantic, however, Faust became a new type of hero, whose rebellious desire to experience the breadth of life, including its forbidden behaviors, was considered the greatest of human achievements. Virtue, for 19th century culture, lay in an unending pursuit of life’s unknowns, due in part to the prodigious efforts of Goethe.

    Falero’s Vision de Faust presents Faust’s dream as he experiences an adventure through the Satanic realm where witches and demons journey to a communal gathering. Satan, or Mephistopheles, was seen by the Romantics as the dark shadow that enabled humans to see the brilliance of heavenly light; only by knowing the depth of his darkness, could one appreciate the greatness of the light. The faces and striking poses of Falero’s demonic women bring the darkness to an entrancing level of detail, a truly captivating vision.

    Falero’s “highly detailed renderings” of spectacularly attractive witches are unlikely suggest demonic forces to a modern audience, even if Faust and Mephistopheles were present in the painting to provide a theological context. Modern Western societies value beauty over almost every moral attribute, we strive to be beautiful and we reward the beauty of others.

    So, if Venus were to take pity on the admirers of this painting—as she did on Pygmalion—and bring Falero’s sexy witches to life, they would step out of this canvas, in front of a camera, and be set for life! (And we would have another representative of Venus to read about in Who every week.)

    [UPDATE 2 May 2009: for the original study by Falero for this canvas, see my later post here; for a study of one of the details from this painting see here.]

    [UPDATE 9 May 2009: to see all my Luis Ricardo Faléro Pages see here.]

    Luis Falero’s Witch, 1880

    Posted in 19thC, Falero, Painting, PSFW on 14 February 2009 by redwitch1

    Luis Ricardo Falero (1851–96) was born in Spain, studied in Paris, but lived most of his short life in London. As this site explains he concentrated on painting highly-finished nudes, with a mythological or fairy-tale setting. One of his passions was reading about the supernatural. He seems to have had a particular fondness for the witches who feature in the Faust story, painting bacchanalian Sabbat-scenes on a number of occasions.

    Of the seven paintings by Falero that I would like to eventually include on this site, at least three, and possibly all seven, concern Faust. Specifically, they concern Faust’s experience of the Witches’ Sabbat and have titles such as “The Vision of Faust” (or “Vision de Faust”), “Faust’s Vision” (“La Rêve”), “Faust and Mephistopheles (“Faust und Mephisto”) and “Departure of the Witches” (“‘Sorcieres qui vont au Sabbat”). Only one of the seven actually contain Faust, but they all contain witches.

    In fact, as far as I can tell, most of these paintings do not have proper titles at all; certainly the paintings are not found in contemporary frames with title-panels; nor, apparently, were they exhibited with fixed titles, nor are they consistently referred to today by fixed titles. The titles that are used in different sources come from a variety of European languages and so it is never really clear whether “The Vision of Faust” and “Vision de Faust,” for example, is the same painting or two paintings and, if the same painting, which title is the real title (the English title or the French one).

    Adding to the confusion is the fact that Falero clearly painted a lot more than seven paintings on the subject of witches or Faust (one has a pencil inscription on the back that reads “Etude de Sorciere N.22″ [Study of a witch, no. 22]); also many, if not most, of these paintings are still in private hands. And I guess if you want to call your study of a witch “The Vision de Faust” after spending US$150,000 on it, who is going to stop you?

    Finally, Falero was a genre painter and it seems no decent collection of his works has been made, no complete study of his paintings has been published (a catalogue raisonne), and so there are no reference book to consult to discover the real/first/accepted/latest title.

    Although I have used a Falero painting on this blog before (the 1907 postcard here), I wanted to start the Falero series with this small but magnificent painting, because it is one of the few witchy paintings that deal with a single subject.

    When this painting was sold in 2003 by Sothebys, on behalf of John Morrin, New York, it was titled “The Witches Sabbath” (“La Socière Allant au Sabbat”); this is the same title that was used when it sold by Sothebys in 1998 for US$21,850. This painting is dated 1880 and seems to be the same painting that was exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1880 (No. 1380) under the title “Vision de Faust. More commonly it is titled “Muse of the Night” (“Musa de la Noche”). But if you want to call it “Hot Redhead on a Broom” I won’t stop you.

    I do not know how much John Morrin got for his 74 x 41cm painting in 2003. The estimate was US$18–25,000: the price of a car. Since Morrin only held the painting for five years the chances are reasonable that it will come up for sale again soon. If it did, I’d sell my car and walk to work every day for the rest of my life just so that I could come home to this. Which of us wouldn’t?

    BTW: If you’d like to look at some more Falero while you are waiting for my next post Artcyclopedia offers links to a few Falero galleries online, suggesting these two as the best: The Athenaeum and Art Renewal Center. I’d add ArtMagick.

    * * * * *

    When Google decided to freeze me off the internet I realised I had a number of options. I have tried, discarded, re-tried and basically wavered between the various options so that now I find myself [1] all-but ready to move to my own domain: I have paid GoDaddy to host the site, have done most of the layout for a blog and am ready to copy all my posts over there, but GoDaddy have a technical problem that makes it impossible for me to use the domain that I own and want to use. I am not doing any more work on the blog until I can do it on my chosen domain. I have also [2] set up a WordPress blog, having done the layout and copied all my posts over last night. I have also [3] set up two more Blogger blogs and set them up so that I can split this one blog into a SFW and NSFW version. I also [4] set up a web site, but it looks like crap and I’m taking it down this afternoon.

    At this stage, since my preferred option is [1], I am still unable to announce where I am moving. If GoDaddy keep mucking me about, or if, after getting my domain, I am unhappy with the appearance of it, or have trouble transferring the posts across, I will opt for [2] next week (the final option is [3], but I set that up before [2] and I am quite happy with the look of wordpress so Blogger can go … “away” would be the nice way to say it, but you know what I mean!).

    Finally, I spent two days catching up on my scanning and OMG have I got some great stuff for this blog, wherever it happens to be. I can’t wait to concentrate on the material in my post, rather than on the location and the layout!

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