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Jacques-Louis Gautier

Mephistopheles, 1st version

Artist

Jacques-Louis Gautier
Paris 1831 – Paris, after 1868

Title

Mephistopheles, 1st version

Date

About 1855

Materials

Patinated bronze

Dimensions

64.6 x 19.5 cm

Founder

Duplan et Salles Foundry, Paris

Credits

Purchase, the Museum Campaign 1988-1993 Fund, inv. 2003.6

Collection

Western Art

This is undoubtedly the most renowned work of the little-known artist Jacques-Louis Gautier. After training in the workshop of the great romantic sculptor François Rude, Gautier produced many bronze art models for various foundries. He made this Mephistopheles in plaster in 1853. At the Exposition universelle of 1855, a bronze was exhibited in the industrial bronze section, a cast of which was acquired by Napoleon III for his office. The character of Mephistopheles became very popular in the Romantic era up to the Second Empire with Goethe’s Faust (1773), which brought a new metaphysical and human dimension to the old legend. In a scene by Robert Schumann, Marguerite takes refuge in the cathedral: a liturgical chant and a Satanic motif clash when the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) finally overcomes the scorn of Mephistopheles, the evil spirit, who is forced to flee.

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