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The subject of this watercolour is taken from a thirteenth century German epic poem, 'The Nibelungenlied'. The scene is set outside the cathedral at Worms. The hero Siegfried is raising his hand to swear a denial that he made love to King Gunter's wife Brunhild who weeps in the right foreground. Fuseli, who was Swiss born but worked for most of his career in London, frequently illustrated 'The Nibelungenlied'. This work is one of a group of at least eight drawings dating from the summer of 1805 when Fuseli was staying just outside London in Fulham. Its dark theme and powerful overtones of sexual jealousy are characteristic of Fuseli's subject matter.

September 2004