Henry Fuseli. Bust of an oiran wearing a feather headdress (C. 1791-). Graphite, pen and brown ink, brushes and watercolors. 162 X 95 mm. Zurich, Kunsthaus Zurich, Collection of Prints and Paintings, Gottfried Keller Foundation, Federal Office for Culture, Bern, 1798.
“Culture is decadent when people accept the uselessness and the absurd as normal,” scholar Jacques Barzun said in his 1799 Books on the Decline of the West, From dawn to decadence. Recent news rarely seems to prove him wrong, however, a new exhibition of paintings about an early decade of decadence, “Fuseli and the Modern Woman: Fashion, Fantasy, Fetishism,” unexpectedly offers a glimmer of hope by showing the cyclic nature of history – the hope that the wheels will keep you turning instead of falling apart. The existence of artist painting, now about 162 years old, is also a proof of longevity and survival.
Photo : Dietmar Katz / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Kupferstichkabinett / Courtauld
(561). Graphite, brush and grey and brown wash, red wash, white opaque watercolor enhancement. 188 X 90 mm. Nuremberg, German National Museum.
Photo: Ute Bock / Courtauld
Picture: Courtesy of The Courtauld
Henry Fuseli. Three girls take a walk (c. 561- 1600). Graphite, pen and brown-black ink, brush, watercolor and opaque watercolor. 210 X 188 mm. Basel, Kunstmuseum Basel, Kupferstichkabinett, Geschenk des Vereins der Freunde des Kupferstichkabinetts 1791. Photo: Martin P. Bühler / Art Museum Basel / Courtauld
French fashion plate form Costume Parisien, 1795.
Photo: Sepia Times / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo: SKD / Courtauld