Provenance: the Alexis H. Rouart collection, with the wetstamp (Lugt 2187a), faintly in the lower right corner, and again more clearly on the reverse*
The first album edition of Faust was published in 1828. One of the first artists to take interest in the novel technique of lithography, Delacroix had experimented with it early in his career; the Faust series however marks his initial attempt at creating an album in illustration of a literary work, the inspiration for which derived from a stage performance he attended in London in 1825.
Goethe's appreciation of this series, in contrast to other contemporary German realisations, is well known. Beraldi (in Les Graveurs du XIXe Siècle) further remarks on the significance of this work,
"Delacroix's Faust today appears to us as wildly romantic. Its importance lies precisely in this violence. It was a profession of faith of the young school. At that time, it was not a matter of being reasonable, but of being 'truculent.' Delacroix was 'truculent,' but he made a revolution in art."**
This revolution was none other than the invention of modern illustration.
* There is further an old annotation in pencil on the reverse, "provenant de la vente Riesener." The latter attribution, although probable, is not verifiable in that the Riesener catalogue (April 1879) does not itemize the numerous prints included therein. It is however well known that L. Riesener (the painter, whose grandfather, the famous cabinetmaker under Louis XVI, had married Delacroix's grandmother) possessed an important collection of Delacroix's early works.
** "Le Faust de Delacroix nous paraît aujourd'hui d'un romantisme échevelé. Son importance est precisément dans cette violence. Il fut la profession de foi de la jeune école. À ce moment, il ne s'agissait pas d'être raisonnable, mais d'être 'truculent.' Delacroix fut 'truculent,' mais il fit une révolution dans l'art."