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Henry Fuseli (1741 - 1825)

Lot 191: JOHANN HEINRICH FUSELI, R.A. 1741-1825

Sotheby's

November 23, 2006
London, United Kingdom

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Description

THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN

COURTESAN BENDING FORWARD

COURTESAN BENDING FORWARD

21.1 by 17.2 cm., 8 1/4 by 6 3/4 in.

pencil, on laid paper watermarked: L.u.A. and with a fleur de lis, unframed

NOTE

This previously unrecorded drawing, dating from after 1790, is one of more than one hundred and fifty erotic subjects for which Fuseli's beautiful fashion conscious wife Sophia often acted as model.

Here Fuseli depicts her in the guise of a courtesan. Wearing a provocative and tight fitting dress, she bends forward in a suggestive pose, concentrating intently upon something outside of the picture plane. From her challenging and unladylike pose, her intricate and eccentic coiffure with the two long braids slithering down her back, the phallic suggestiveness of her earring, to the extravagant bow attached to her back, the aim is to draw the eye of the viewer. If shown in a frontal view, her breasts would have been bared, as hinted at by her low cut corset. Furthermore, the exclusion of any background detail obscures any wider contextual meaning for this figure which is instead left to the viewer's imagination.

We thank Professor David Weinglass for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.

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