New exhibitions of works by Henri Fuseli and Helen Saunders open at The Courtauld Gallery

14 Oct 2022

Today (14 October), a new season of exhibitions has opened at The Courtauld Gallery.

Fuseli and the Modern Woman: Fashion, Fantasy, Fetishism 
14 Oct 2022 – 8 Jan 2023

One of the most original and eccentric artists of the 18th century,  the Swiss-born Henry Fuseli (1741–1825) is the subject of a new exhibition at The Courtauld.

This exhibition focuses on Fuseli’s numerous private drawings of the modern woman. Blending observed realities with elements of fantasy, these studies present one of the finest draughtsmen of the Romantic period at his most original and provocative. Here, the fashionable women of the period appear as powerful figures of dangerous erotic allure, whom the artist regards with a mix of fascination and mistrust. Perhaps as problematic then as now, this visually compelling body of work provides an insight into anxieties about gender, identity, and sexuality at a time of acute social instability, as the effects of the first modern revolutions – in America and in France – swept across Britain and the Continent. Many of those anxieties still speak vividly to us today.

Organised in collaboration with the Kunsthaus Zürich, the exhibition will showcase drawings brought together from international collections and will be accompanied by a catalogue presenting new research. Following its presentation at The Courtauld, the exhibition will travel to Zürich, the city where Fuseli was born.

Fuseli and the Modern Woman: Fashion, Fantasy, Fetishism is supported by the International Music and Art Foundation and the Tavolozza Foundation, with additional support from James Bartos, and Olivier and Desiree Berggruen.  Book tickets 

Helen Saunders: Modernist Rebel
14 Oct 2022 – 29 Jan 2023

A pioneer of abstract art in Britain, Helen Saunders (1885–1963) was one of only two women to join the Vorticists, the radical but short-lived art movement that emerged in London on the eve of the First World War. Other members included Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound. Saunders is celebrated in a new monographic exhibition in our Gilbert and Ildiko Butler Drawings Gallery, the first devoted to her work in over 25 years.

The exhibitions showcases a remarkable group of 18 of the artist’s drawings and watercolours, given to The Courtauld in 2016 to form the largest public collection of Saunders’s work in the world.

The drawings trace her artistic development, from glimpses into her early period as an artist in the orbit of Roger Fry and the Bloomsbury Group, to a landmark group of six drawings from her Vorticist period. Landscapes created in L’Estaque in the south of France in the 1920s reveal Saunders response to her environment and to the art of predecessors who had worked there earlier such as Paul Cézanne and Georges Braque. Entry to this display is included in the gallery admission ticket

Helen Saunders: Modernist Rebel is supported by James Bartos.

A Modern Masterpiece Uncovered: Wyndham Lewis, Helen Saunders and Praxitella
14 Oct 2022 – 12 Feb 2023

To coincide with Helen Saunders: Modernist Rebel in the Drawings Gallery, a new display – A Modern Masterpiece Uncovered: Wyndham Lewis, Helen Saunders and Praxitella – has opened in The Courtauld’s Project Space.

In 2019, two former Courtauld students, Rebecca Chipkin and Helen Kohn, were investigating the painting Praxitella (1921) by Wyndham Lewis, one of the highlights of the collection of Leeds Art Gallery, as part of a research project at The Courtauld’s Department of Conservation. The painting depicts a portrait of pioneering film critic and curator Iris Barry. Scholars have previously suspected that Lewis painted over an earlier composition, as the surface of the painting has an uneven texture and forms lurking underneath, as well as different colours visible through cracks in the paint layers.

During their six-month technical analysis of Praxitella, the students identified the artwork beneath Wyndham Lewis’ painting as one by his friend and colleague Helen Saunders – a fellow member of the radical, short-lived British Vorticist group who was known to have fallen out with him.

All of Saunders’ Vorticist paintings were thought to be lost before now, and this new display will present Lewis’ Praxitella alongside the x-ray and partial colour reconstruction of Atlantic City, as well as a range of technical material to tell the story of this remarkable discovery. Entry to this display is included in the gallery admission ticket

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