Female Lucubration: Étude Nocturne

A work made of mezzotint in black on cream laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of mezzotint in black on cream laid paper.

Date:

1772

Artist:

Philip Dawe
English, 1750-1785

About this artwork

Philip Dawe worked for the great British satirist William Hogarth (1697–1764), and his mezzotints have a similar flair. This candlelight subject does not immediately appear subversive: a young woman holding a candlestick reaches over the flame toward a bookshelf above. Yet the woman is likely not the mistress of the house, judging from her maidservant attire, though she selects a book rather than dusting the shelf. At the time it was considered improper for women to do reading, serious or otherwise, and so the title juxtaposes lucubration—meaning serious, nocturnal study by artificial light—with an unexpected modifier, female. Indeed, she seems to be anticipating reading something illicit, perhaps the 18th-century erotic novel Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.

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Prints and Drawings

Artist

Philip Dawe

Title

Female Lucubration: Étude Nocturne

Origin

England

Date

1772

Medium

Mezzotint in black on cream laid paper

Dimensions

464 × 353 mm (image); 505 × 353 mm (plate); 508 × 359 mm (sheet)

Credit Line

Gift of Langdon Pearce

Reference Number

1951.379

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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