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Henry Fuseli and the Sexual Sublime

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Title: Henry Fuseli and the Sexual Sublime
Author: Carter, Sarah
Department: School of Fine Art and Music
Program: Art History and Visual Culture
Advisor: Smylitopoulos, Christina Dr.
Abstract: Anglo-Swiss artist Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) shared drawings of a sexually charged and implied sadistic nature among an elite and intimate group of male artists. These drawings explore sexuality as a fundamental and emotionally profound human experience. This thesis approaches these drawings as studies, a demonstration of virtuosity and an experiment in visual limits, specifically the aesthetic boundaries that divide the sublime and the beautiful. I discuss the implications of the late eighteenth-century approach to the sublime and position Fuseli within an aesthetic debate. I argue that Three Women and a Recumbent Man (1809), Three Courtesans Operating on the Face of a Bound Man (1800) and Woman Torturing a Child (1800-1810) were not simply pornographic illustrations intended for private pleasure, but intellectual investigations into the sublime possibilities of sexuality in art.
Date: 2014-04
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