Henry Fuseli

The Debutante

1807

Medium
Watercolour and graphite on paper
Dimensions
Frame: 691 x 558 x 22 mm
support: 371 x 243 mm
image: 357 x 232 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Lady Holroyd in accordance with the wishes of the late Sir Charles Holroyd 1919
Reference
N03396

Display caption

This is one of numerous drawings
in which Fuseli explored his fantasies about
dominant women. In such drawings, Fuseli
usually portrayed women as cruel sexual
predators, dressed in elaborate costumes
and head-dresses.

 

The precise subject of this drawing is not known, but the women are probably high class prostitutes, or courtesans. The woman in the foreground, who is sewing, appears
to be tethered by a lead round her neck.
The large woman seated to the left might
be the person in charge of the 'bagnio',
or brothel.

Gallery label, September 2004