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Faust and Marguerite

Hendrik Jan August Leys, Belgian, 1815 - 1869

Made in Antwerp, Belgium, Europe


Oil on panel

39 1/4 × 69 3/4 inches (99.7 × 177.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The William L. Elkins Collection, 1924

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This painting shows a moment in Goethe's dramatic poem Faust.

Faust stands with the demonic Mephistopheles behind an iron screen, and he first spies the chaste Marguerite emerging from a church. Faust demands that Mephistopheles secure Marguerite's love for him. Leys has followed Goethe's description in his depiction of Marguerite as a young woman of modest or lower social standing with red lips, glowing cheeks, and downcast eyes.

Like many nineteenth-century artists, Leys was interested in the Middle Ages. Here he dresses the characters in medieval costume and sets the scene at a medieval cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium.