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Fuseli image

Henry Fuseli (1741–1825)
Portrait of Martha Hess, ca. 1778–79
Black chalk, stumped, heightened with white chalk, on light brown paper
20 3/8 x 13 7/8 inches (518 x 356 mm)
Purchased as the gift of Mrs. W. Murray Crane; 1954.1
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Martha Hess was a niece of Fuseli’s boyhood friend, the physiognomist Johann Kaspar Lavater, who used some of the artist’s drawings of Hess and her sister to illustrate his book on judging character from facial features, Essays on Physiognomy. In contrast to the engravings in Lavater’s book, which represent Hess as cooly reserved and distant, this likeness conveys a delicate sensuality and suggests an intimacy between artist and sitter.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.