Welti’s Walpurgisnacht, 1897
Albert Welti‘s “Walpurgisnacht” (1896-97) was the subject of an exhibition in 1984. The catalogue, Albert Welti im Kunsthaus Zürich, lists 50 works relating to the artist: none are in English, and I have not found anything on Welti published in English in the last two decades. Consequently, the following images will have to tell their own story. From these pictures you can see that a number of changes were made to the composition of “Walpurgisnacht” before the final version was completed in 1897.
The first version of “Walpurgisnacht” featured a naked young witch straddling a sharply-peaked roof, using her broom to discourage a man from peeking out of a window at her and her sister witches. In the second study below there is a witch emerging from a nearby chimney forwards; in the third study, the witch emerges backwards.
In the second version of “Walpurgisnacht” the witch who attacks our peeping-Tom is now in flight, facing away from the viewer. The artist clearly decided that it would be indecorous to have this witch naked, given her pose, but a number of early sketches show her naked (and background figures are in even more “lewd” poses). The witch emerging from the chimney is now being helped out by a third central figure who is completely up-side down (this character appears at the head of this post, the right way up). The first image below appears to be the final study; it is followed by the painting itself.