Fritz Roeber, Walpurgisnacht [Witches’ Night], 1910⁠

In the German legend of Faust (based on the real man Johann Georg Faust c.1480–1540), Dr. Faust makes a deal with Satan’s sales rep Mephistopheles to trade his soul in exchange for worldly knowledge and unlimited pleasure. In Goethe’s version of the legend, Mephistopheles helps Faust seduce the beautiful and innocent girl Gretchen, eventually ruining her life by having a baby out of wedlock. She kills the baby and is then tried and convicted of murder. In the end, she goes to heaven, her innocence having saved her. This painting shows just that; the beautiful Gretchen (who has a very faint red line across her throat signaling the executioner’s axe mark) ascends to heaven. A concerned-looking Faust (in blue) looks on while Mephistopheles whispers lies in his ear. Witches and demons float and cavort about in a stormy German landscape.⁠

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