About this artwork
All the formulae that would come to define Fuseli’s unique style are already present in this extremely accomplished early drawing: the stage-like setting and dramatic gestures that reveal the influence of the theater; a powerful use of line and contour; extreme contrasts of dark and light; and heroic physiques influenced by ancient sculpture and Michelangelo.
The subject is from Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene (published 1590). It depicts the temptation of suicide offered by Despair, who bends over his latest victim. The Red Cross Knight, the hero of book 1, stands with Una, symbol of Truth, at the mouth of the cave.
Currently Off View
- Prints and Drawings
- Henry Fuseli
- The Cave of Despair
- Pen and black ink, with brush and brown and gray wash and touches of red gouache, over graphite and touches of charcoal, on ivory laid paper
- 331 × 504 mm
- The Leonora Hall Gurley Memorial Collection