Fuseli and the Modern Woman: Fashion, Fantasy, Fetishism

One of the most original and eccentric artists of the 18th century,  the Swiss-born Henry Fuseli (1741–1825) is the subject of a new exhibition at The Courtauld.

Fuseli spent most of his career in London, where he established himself as one of 18th century Europe’s most controversial artists. He deliberately courted notoriety with his most famous painting The Nightmare and other sensationalistic images inspired by a wide range of literature and his own imagination.

Fuseli was praised by some as a creative genius, while others dismissed his works as ‘shockingly mad’. But much admired by his colleagues, he became the Royal Academy’s Professor of Painting and Keeper of its premises at Somerset House, in what is now The Courtauld Gallery, where he and his wife Sophia Rawlins (1762/3–1832) lived from 1805 until his death.

This exhibition focuses on Fuseli’s numerous private drawings of the modern woman. Blending observed realities with elements of fantasy, these studies present one of the finest draughtsmen of the Romantic period at his most original and provocative. Here, the fashionable women of the period appear as powerful figures of dangerous erotic allure, whom the artist regards with a mix of fascination and mistrust. Perhaps as problematic then as now, this visually compelling body of work provides an insight into anxieties about gender, identity, and sexuality at a time of acute social instability, as the effects of the first modern revolutions – in America and in France – swept across Britain and the Continent. Many of those anxieties still speak vividly to us today.

Duration 14 October 2022 - 08 January 2023
Times Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00 (last entry 17:15).
Cost £15 weekdays £17 weekends
Venue The Courtauld Gallery
Address Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN
Contact 4402078482526 / galleryinfo@courtauld.ac.uk / http://courtauld.ac.uk/gallery

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