Two superb series of paintings of scenes from Goethe’s Faust Part One, by Ary Scheffer and James Tissot.
Based more on the legend of Johann Faust, here’s a summary of the second part of Goethe’s play, with paintings and illustrations for it.
Gretchen poisoned her mother and drowned her baby; she is now in jail awaiting execution. Faust wants to rescue her, but Mephistopheles isn’t bothered.
Faust and Mephistopheles attend the witches’ celebrations on the Brocken peak in the Harz Mountains – a wild night, it seems.
Gretchen and Faust become lovers, but her mother dies as a result of Faust’s sleeping potion, and he kills her brother in a sword-fight.
Faust lusts after the young Gretchen. Mephistopheles sets up a meeting, and the girl is soon in love with Faust, ready to do anything for him. And so she does.
Drinking in one of the oldest bars in Leipzig gets the pair into trouble, so they move on to get a witch to rejuvenate Faust. He then lusts after Gretchen.
Faust signs his contract with the devil in his own blood. Paintings by Ary Scheffer and others, and an engraving by Delacroix tell this story vividly.
Mephistopheles (the devil) makes a bet with the Lord that he can lead his faithful servant Faust astray. Faust has grown weary of scholarship, and is looking for something better.
Viewed as classic and fit for narrative painting, Faust is about good and evil, a powerful story which has inspired powerful paintings.