The Kunsthaus Zürich has gathered together some 60 works offering an unprecedented opportunity to experience Fuseli the draughtsman at his most innovative and exciting, as the creator of a fascinating pictorial universe that is as provocative as it is challenging.

Henry Fuseli, The Debutante, 1807, Tate, London, presented by Lady Holroyd in accordance with the wishes of the late Sir Charles Holroyd 1919, photo © Tate
Henry Fuseli, Woman with long plaits teasing a figure trapped in a well; and study of Ezzelin and Meduna, 1817–22, Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, photo © Kupferstich-Kabinett, SKD, Herbert Boswank
Henry Fuseli, Standing woman seen from the back, c. 1796–1800, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust), photo © The Courtauld
Henry Fuseli, Three women promenading, c. 1800, Kunstmuseum Basel, Kupferstichkabinett, Geschenk des Vereins der Freunde des Kupferstichkabinetts, 1914, photo © 2022 Kunstmuseum Basel
Henry Fuseli, Three women and a recumbent man, c. 1809–10, Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Given by Michael Sadleir, London, photo © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Henry Fuseli, Woman in a sculpture gallery, 1798, Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, photo © Kupferstich-Kabinett, SKD, Andreas Diesend
Henry Fuseli, Sophia Fuseli, her hair in large rolls, with pink gloves, in front of a brown curtain, 1790, Kunsthaus Zürich, Graphische Sammlung, Donated by Friends and Patrons, 1914
Henry Fuseli, Three women with baskets, descending a staircase, c. 1800, Nottingham City Museums & Galleries, photo © Nottingham City Museum and Art Gallery

Fuseli's image of the modern woman: challenging and selfconfident


CHF 23.–/18.– (concessions and groups) inclusive Collection. Free admission for members, children and young people under the age of 17.


Note for groups

We look forward to welcoming you to the Kunsthaus. For organizational reasons, prior registration is required. 44 253 84 84

Where is the exhibition located?

In the Chipperfield Building, 2nd floor!

Where we might expect to see eighteenth-century idealized bodies in the appealing poses and proportions of classical statues, instead we encounter women whose anatomies are defined by stiff bodices, waistbands, puffed sleeves and pointed shoes, and whose heads are crowned by coiffures of the most bizarre and complicated kind. Fuseli offers us not the submissive and eroticized nudes of painters such as Boucher, Fragonard or Ingres, but rather female figures who are strikingly challenging, self-confidently returning the viewer’s gaze or even ignoring them completely. In general, Fuseli presents his women as seemingly unapproachable, solo figures. When gathered together in groups, their activities may seem mysterious; in erotic scenes, meanwhile, the women appear to remain firmly in control.

Unquestionably, Fuseli’s interest in the female figure opened up new avenues for his draughtsmanship; indeed, the technical complexity of these drawings is exceeded by none of his other works in the medium. The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue examine the wide variety of women’s hairstyles, the role and presence of Sophia Rawlins in Fuseli’s work and the novel image of the powerful female figure, as well as the influence of the libertarian environment on the artist’s creative imagination.
The exhibition is curated by Dr Jonas Beyer and a close collaboration with The Courtauld, London.

Supported by the Elisabeth Weber Foundation, Boston Consulting Group and Albers & Co AG. The German catalogue was supported by the Wolfgang Ratjen Foundation, Vaduz.

Exhibition view, photo © Caroline Minjolle

Supported by:

Ill. at top: Henry Fuseli, Halflength figure of a courtesan with feathered headdress, c. 1800 – 1810, Kunsthaus Zürich, Gottfried Keller Foundation, Federal Office of Culture, Bern, 1934