In a series of drawings completed in 1805, artist Henry Fuseli illustrated Kriemhild, the female protagonist of the medieval German epic The Niebelungenlied. Around the same time period, Fuseli was also creating highly sexualized illustrations of courtesans. While other scholars have proposed that Fuseli’s sketches of courtesans show that he held a positive view of women, this essay compares his images of Kriemhild and courtesans to suggest that Fuseli saw Kriemhild a symbol of righteous fury, loyalty and justice, and as a moral opposite to contemporary sex workers. Fuseli’s idealization of Kriemhild combined with his posthumously published lectures reveal his negative perception of 19th-century women, offering an alternative interpretation of Fuseli’s artistic intent.



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