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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

* Gallery 255, European Art 1850-1900, second floor

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.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.