In this head and shoulders portrait, the sitter, presumably seated, leans steeply forward, his chin resting on his arms which lie across an open but unidentifiable book on a table.

In front of him is a small round box, inscribed with 'I.C. box'. On the margin of the book, a later hand has added in pencil John Cartwright. This drawing was originally identified, on the evidence of the inscriptions, as a portrait by Fuseli of John Cartwright (1763-1808), a minor painter and friend of the artist. Comparison with other self portraits by Fuseli, and the directness and intensity of the image, make it plain that the subject is Fuseli himself. The initials on the box suggest that the drawing was made in Cartwright's house and given to him.

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