Henry Fuseli Percival Delivering Belisane from the Enchantment of Urma exhibited 1783

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Artwork details

Artist
Henry Fuseli 1741–1825
Title
Percival Delivering Belisane from the Enchantment of Urma
Date Exhibited 1783
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 991 x 1257 mm
frame: 1248 x 1510 x 108 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by the Art Fund 1941
Reference
N05304
Not on display

Display caption

Conventionally, history paintings were based on a literary or historical source familiar to educated viewers. The artist’s role was to select from the story a crucially significant moment that would convey a sense of nobility and moral certainty.

The success of this strategy of course depended on the viewer knowing the story, and so knowing what would happen next. Fuseli, however, admitted that he invented the saga of Percival and Belisane shown here. His paintings tended to emphasis spectacle and sensation rather then the noble themes and moral lessons which Reynolds’s view of the ‘great style’ demanded.

September 2004

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