Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Count Ezzelin Bracciaferro Musing over the Body of His Wife Meduna, Slain by Him for Her Infidelity during his Absence in the Holy Land

Engraver:
John Raphael Smith (British, baptized Derby 1751–1812 Doncaster)
Artist:
After Henry Fuseli (Swiss, Zürich 1741–1825 London)
Publisher:
James Birchall (British, active 1781–94)
Date:
May 1781
Medium:
Mezzotint
Dimensions:
Sheet (trimmed close to plate): 17 13/16 × 21 3/4 in. (45.3 × 55.2 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1959
Accession Number:
59.570.363
Not on view
This print's elaborate title suggests Fuseli derived the subject from Italian medieval history. In fact, he invented it, combining various sources, so that he could explore the anguished posture and expression of a murderer who simultaneously "deplores his madness, but repents it not." The image reflects the artist's life-long fascination with extreme psychological states and conflict between the sexes. Within a castle interior, Ezzelin, count of Ravenna, watches over the body of his wife, whom he has killed for betraying him. Smith used mezzotint to reproduce the moody darkness of Fuseli's painting, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1780.
Signature: in plate below image: "Pained by H. Fusley / Engraved by J. R. Smith"

Inscription: in plate below title: "London Publish'd May 1781 by Ja-s Birchall No. 473 Strand"
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 22, 2002–July 14, 2002.

Frankau 1902.133; Weinglass 65; D'Oench 168
Julia Frankau John Raphael Smith: His Life and Works. London, 1902, cat. no. 133, pp. 118-9.

Gert Schiff Johann Heinrich Füssli, 1741-1825. Schweizerisches Institut für Kunstwissenschaft, Oeuvrekataloge Schweizer Künstler, 2 vols., Zurich and Munich, 1973, cat. no. 965 (1791 version of the print engraved by Thomas Holloway): I, p. 531; II, p. 282, ill.

David H. Weinglass Prints and Engraved Illustrations by and after Henry Fuseli; A Catalogue Raisonné. Aldershot, Hampshire and Brookfield, Vermont, 1994, cat. no. 65, pp. 53-4 (also see: 1791 engraving by Thomas Holloway: cat. no. 103, p. 111, after lost painting of 1781), ill.

Ellen D'Oench "Copper into Gold": Prints by John Raphael Smith, 1751–1812. New Haven and London, 1999, cat. no. 168, pp. 38, 81, 210.

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