Henry Fuseli was “obsessive about intercourse”, mentioned Mika Ross-Southall in The Every day Telegraph. Wherever he might insert a fetishistic contact into his artwork, he would: certainly, round a third of the works on present on this exhibition at the Courtauld – subtitled Style, Fantasy, Fetishism –  “depict girls’s backsides”. Some are “hidden, teasingly bulging below ribbons and puckered skirts”, others “uncovered, usually by means of wisps of gauze”.

Usually, Fuseli’s footage of feminine topics challenge need blended with “contempt” and “distrust”. Born in Zurich in 1741, he initially educated as a Protestant priest earlier than reinventing himself as a author and draughts­man in London, the place his portray The Nightmare (1782) “grew to become an in a single day sensation”. Depicting a “putrid incubus” squatting on a “supine girl”, the picture invited fascination and outrage. The portray isn’t on this present, however its ambiance of psychosexual dread will be felt in all the 50 works which can be, most of them created for personal pleasure relatively than public show. The exhibition offers us a sizeable dose of Fuseli’s “fanciful and unsettling” imaginative and prescient, and demonstrates that he was a supremely gifted draughtsman.

Fuseli’s drawings of ladies with “fantastical hair and bulbous buttocks” could appear odd by our requirements, mentioned Jonathan Jones in The Guardian. However such topics have been pretty widespread within the context of British artists of the period: consider Thomas Rowlandson’s bawdy cartoons or George Romney’s portraits of Emma Hamilton. The distinction is that Fuseli’s footage transport you “into the candlelit world of the Gothic creativeness”. In a single, a group of courtesans “subdue a unadorned man on a mattress”, whereas in one other, a girl torments a person in a properly “by dangling a leash over him”. In Two Courtesans at a Dressing Desk (1805-6), a girl “sits together with her eyes closed and breasts bared whereas her buddy places the ending touches to her insanely advanced hair and make-up”.

The exhibition’s makes an attempt to offer insights into “gender, id and sexuality” within the early nineteenth century will not be totally convincing, mentioned Laura Freeman in The Occasions. The photographs, nevertheless, are great. Of explicit word are Fuseli’s loving depictions of ridiculous up to date hairstyles. “Bizarre beehives and backcombed manes” dominate. His Portrait of Anna Magdalena Schweizer (1779) sees her “with curls piled half a foot excessive”. That Fuseli and his spouse Sophia had a hairdresser go to them each day comes as no shock. This “small, choose and really unusual” present is “a captivating oddity”, which is able to make you lengthy to “guide an appointment on the nearest blow-dry bar”.

Courtauld Gallery, London WC2 (020-3947 7777, courtauld.ac.uk). Till 8 January