Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A Devilish Candlestick

This unusual bronze candlestick can be seen in the Library at Montacute House. It depicts the figure of Mephistopheles, the devilish tempter in the Faust legend. In European folklore, Mephistopheles is a high-ranking lord of Hell, second only to Satan. It’s quite surprising to find him in such a genteel and sophisticated setting!

Like most of the furnishings in Montacute, the candlestick isn’t original to the house... although it might well have graced the library of a sophisticated English gentleman in the eighteenth century when it was made. At that time, the story of Faust would have been best known through Christopher Marlowe’s play The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus. Mephistopheles would have been viewed as a romanticised literary character, rather than a fearsome mediaeval demon!

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