He Is Free

This curious scene considers the association between liberation and libertine architecture. A nude woman, lying on her back in a gravity-defying pose, extends her upper body from a niche to free a male lyrebird; the first specimens of this bird, native to Australia, had just reached Europe. Below the niche, four melancholy masks frame the title. The contrast between the woman’s soft, curved body and the sharp, rigid stone surround produces an erotic tension.

Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1757–1826)
He Is Free, 1798–99
Pen and black ink, brown and red wash
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Departement des Estampes et de la photographie