The Blue Beard Tableau: Fatima Enters the Forbidden Closet; What She Sees There; Disposition of the Bodies (Invisible to the Spectators)
Regarded as one of the great American Realists of the nineteenth century, Winslow Homer is known primarily for his large body of works in oil and watercolor. However, he also had an early career as a freelance illustrator, making drawings for wood engravings that were reproduced in mass-circulation periodicals such as Harper’s Weekly. In 1998, the Brooklyn Museum received a generous gift of more than 250 wood-engraved illustrations by Homer from Harvey Isbitts.
Loosely connected to the idea of literary illustration, these engravings portray how a novelty tableau vivant based on the then popular blood-curdling story of Bluebeard and his wives might have been staged. The doggerel verse by Theodore Cook reproduced on the page provides an updated rendition of the original 1697 fairy tale by Charles Perrault. Bluebeard offers the keys to his castle to his wife, warning her not to open a particular door. Unable to control her curiosity, she unlocks the door to find the six bodies of her predecessors, who had also opened the forbidden door. (Perrault’s version ends happily with the seventh wife escaping.) The popularity of the story in Homer’s time was spurred by Jacques Offenbach’s 1866 operetta Barbe-Bleue, a burlesque of the horrific tale.
Image (a): 4 1/2 x 4 5/8 in. (11.4 x 11.7 cm)
Image (b): 4 x 9 1/4 in. (10.2 x 23.5 cm)
Image (c): 4 3/8 x 4 5/8 in. (11.1 x 11.7 cm)
Sheet: 16 1/8 x 11 in. (41 x 27.9 cm)
Frame: 22 3/4 x 16 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (57.8 x 42.5 x 3.8 cm) (show scale)
b: Signed lower left: "WH"; c: signed lower left corner of curtain: "WH"
This item is not on view
Gift of Harvey Isbitts
No known copyright restrictions
This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals.
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact email@example.com
Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910). The Blue Beard Tableau: Fatima Enters the Forbidden Closet; What She Sees There; Disposition of the Bodies (Invisible to the Spectators), 1868. Wood engraving, Image (a): 4 1/2 x 4 5/8 in. (11.4 x 11.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Harvey Isbitts, 1998.105.118a-c (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1998.105.118a_SL3.jpg)
component, 1998.105.118a_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.