Death of Valentin
(Alexandre-Marie Colin)


In choosing a subject from Goethe’s Faust Colin was probably influenced by his friend Delacroix who began a series of illustrations and paintings from Faust after seeing a musical adaptation of the play in England in 1825. Colin’s painting illustrates a passage called “Night” from Part One of Faust. It depicts the moment immediately after Faust has killed Valentine, Margaret’s brother, at the urging of Mephistopheles and with his magical assistance. While Faust seems to recoil at the deed he has committed, Mephistopheles looks back at their dying victim with no remorse. Colin has included details described by Goethe — the starry sky and the cither on the ground, with which Mephistopheles serenaded Margaret, and which was smashed by Valentine.

Colin, like his colleagues Bonington and A.-E. Fragonard, was attracted to the same type of literary and historical subjects as the “troubadour” painters, but was stylistically very different. While the “troubadour” painters relished an archaic and miniaturist technique, these artists, clearly under the influence of Delacroix, strove for monumentality, even when working on a small scale. A critic writing for the Journal des Debats in 1826 said of Colin that he was “a fresh and natural talent destined to create scenes of boldness and pathos,” and this work bears out that observation.

17 1/8 x 21 1/16 inches (43.5 by 53.5 cm.)
Oil on canvas
Where is It?
Stair Sainty Matthiesen
Historical Period
Romanticism - 1810-1870
1996-Romance and Chivalry: History and Literature reflected in Early Nineteenth Century French Painting.
Hardback book. 300 pages, fully illustrated with 90 colour plates and 100 black and white illustrations. Introduction (40 pages) by Guy Stair Sainty, twelve essays, catalogue, appendix of salons 1801-24 and bibliography. £50 or $80 inc. p.& p.

(Click on image above)
Price band
$5,000 - $50,000