Robert Mapplethorpe

Francesca Thyssen (1981)

About this artwork

Francesca Thyssen is the daughter of the art collector, the late Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Scottish model, Fiona Campbell-Walter. In 1993 she married Archduke Karl von Habsburg, but they later separated. Francesca von Habsburg (as she is now called) lives in Vienna and, like her father, collects art on a grand scale. Mapplethorpe portrays her in a costume that makes her look like a woman in an early Netherlandish painting or a figure out of the Arabian Nights.

  • title: Francesca Thyssen
  • accession number: AR00156
  • artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Gelatine silver print
  • date created: 1981
  • measurements: 441 x 341 mm (Framed: 741 x 587 x 39 mm)
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
  • copyright: © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe

The American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe became famous, not to say, notorious, in the 1970s and 1980s for his photographs of the male nude and sexually explicit, gay imagery. Although often considered controversial, Mapplethorpe tested the right to individual freedom of expression. These images were not meant to be titillating or obscene but beautiful in a traditionally classical way. His work, therefore, holds a significant place in the history of artistic struggle to depict the world as it is, with honesty and truth. His nudes, when considered alongside his portraits of children and flower photographs, show him to be overwhelmingly interested in the beauty and transience of life. Mapplethorpe, even when facing death from AIDS, affirmed the beauty of the here and now.