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Filiger had a patron, the Comte Antoine de la Rochefoucauld, who provided him with a small regular income and bought many of his paintings. Filiger met him, together with the writer and editor of the Mercure de France, Remy de Gourmont in 1891, during one of his increasingly rare visits to Paris. La Rochefoucauld was at the time a friend of 'Sâr' Péladan, founder (or he would say reviver) in 1890 of the 'Ordre du Temple de la Rose+Croix'. In March 1892, with financial help from La Rochefoucauld, he held the first Salon de la Rose+Croix, proposing it as a revival of idealism in painting in opposition to the Academy and Impressionist (therefore realist) dominated official Salons. Filiger showed among other works his Prayer, Christ with Angels and St John

Charles Filiger: Saint John the Baptist, gouache on card, 1891-2

La Rochefoucauld and Péladan however, soon fell out and Filiger was at the centre of their quarrel. In an interview for the journal Le Matin published at the beginning of April, La Rochefoucauld explained: 'He [Péladan] doesn't understand Filiger, Bernard, Redon, he only likes finished things and doesn't acknowledge any flight towards the beyond [envolée vers l'au delà]. My own aesthetic is all to do with sensation ... When a work seizes you, you must stop looking for partial imperfections.' Cariou incidentally tells us that Redon and Gauguin were the only contemporary painters for whom Filiger in his correspondence expressed admiration. Later in the month La Rochefoucauld said 'The disagreements between myself and Péladan had already begun when we were hanging the paintings and also considering them for inclusion. He held to the Florentines and I to the primitives. He didn't think much, for example, of the exquisite little paintings by Filiger which I love infinitely.' La Rochefoucauld, originally appointed 'Archonte of the Fine Arts and Grand Prior of the Order', broke with Péladan and soon after started payment of Filiger's pension.

Filiger's letters to de la Rochefoucauld are full of apologies for his slowness in producing this Last Judgment which La Rochefoucauld had commissioned. In fact he worked on it for some seven years and never completed it. It was to consist of three panels - a large Christ, accompanied by two angels, in the centre (though 'large' is a relative term - all Filiger's paintings are very small), a panel to the left (to the Christ figure's right) showing the saved, and one to the right showing the damned. The two side panels were eventually completed but for some reason (it would be interesting to speculate why) he couldn't do the central panel. What is strange about the work is that there is no very obvious difference between the figures in the two panels. An array of beautiful faces, beautiful clothes and much the same expressions on the faces - Filiger's usual expression of slightly distracted solemnity. There is one woman who is weeping, but she is in the panel of the saved. The damned include a boy holding a toy lamb, a model, one would have thought, of innocence (he occupies the same place in the panel as the woman weeping in the panel of the saved and one could speculate that he is the cause of her grief).

The main difference I would see between the 'saved' and the 'damned' is that the saved are in full fleshly colour while the flesh of the damned is shown in washed out, greyish tints. One might be put in mind not of the eternal dramatic torments that are usually ascribed to 'Hell' but of something closer to the Greek concept of 'Hades'. The contrast seems to be between a full bodily humanity (Christianity teaches the 'resurrection of the body') and an incorporeal, one might say 'spiritual', phantom-like half life.

Charles Filiger: The Last Judgement, gouache on card, 42.2 x 26, 1891-8

I think something similar might be being said of another of Filiger's more well known paintings, his Entombment. Here the boy's face - still, I think, Joseph Pobla - is placed next to the face of the dead Christ. I mentioned earlier that Filiger in his early days had been deeply affected by Cimabue's 'Virgin with Angels'. Another painting that had a big impact on him was Hans Holbein's terrifying 'Dead Christ' in the Art Museum in Bâle, Switzerland. The painting features in Dostoyevsky's novel The Idiot where it is presented as a symbol of everything that could be said in refutation of the teachings of Christianity.

Filiger's dead Christ is not terrifying but he is very dead. He has a colour similar to that of the damned in the Last Judgment (Christianity teaches that after the Crucifixion Christ 'descended into Hades'). The boy, on the other hand, is very much alive and has the full flesh colour of the panel of the saved.

Charles Filiger: Entombment, Gouache on paper, 22 x 18.5 cm, 1894

I like this idea but I don't know if I can pursue it very far since there are other paintings in which figures one might have thought were living are shown in the greyer tints I've associated with the dead or the damned (or the spiritualised). For example this, in which there is little distinction between the dead Christ and the 'angels' (three Joseph Poblas) and mourning women.

Charles Filiger: Lamentation over the dead Christ, gouache on card, 32.5 x 35 cm, 1895

There is even one 'Christ in the Tomb' in which the Christ figure appears to be alive and in fleshly colours - to the extent that Cariou comments: 'One doesn't know if Christ's death and suffering are more important than the desire felt for this half naked body.' I don't read it like that at all. The main thing for me is that here Christ is sleeping peacefully and very much alive. It is the opposite vision to the vision of Holbein.

Charles Filiger: Christ in the tomb, gouache on card, 19 x 35, 1892-5