plate: 12 11/16 x 7 13/16 in. (32.3 x 19.9 cm)
sheet: 14 1/16 x 8 9/16 in. (35.7 x 21.8 cm)
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1959
Not on view
To modern eyes this design looks surreal but it is actually a fashionable, erotic variant of a seventeenth-century print type. Known as Nobody prints, these featured figures composed only of legs and heads, with nothing in between, and the resulting verbal-visual pun was aimed critically at specified target. Here, the elegant female "no-body" is composed of a huge, elaborately dressed, wig sitting atop a bare derriere, with her lower extremities clad in white silk stockings, red garters, and high heeled pumps. Like other fashion satires that mocked the latest trends, this example took aim at the enormous hairdos and wigs that women favored in Britain and France before the French Revolution. The title and partial nudity frankly acknowledges the sexual appeal of the fashion while simultaneously suggesting that those who followed it were literally brainless.
Signature: in plate: "Drawn my Mr. Per[i]wig/ Engraved by Miss Heel"
Inscription: in plate: "Published as the Act directs 1777 in Great Castle Street No. 27, Oxford Market"
Francis Harvey (British, active by 1859–died 1899); C. W. Dyson Perrins, his sale Sotheby's, London, Jan. 12, 1959
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine," September 13, 2011–March 4, 2012.
V&A, English Caricature (1984) 61; not in British Museum Satires.
Nadine Orenstein, Constance C. McPhee Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine Exh. cat.: September 13, 2011 - March 4, 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Haven and London, 2011, Entry by Constance McPhee, cat. no. 82, p. 116, ill.