The Draughtsman's Contract

United Kingdom, 1982 / 108 Mins

Director: Peter Greenaway

Starring: Peter Greenaway. Starring: Anthony Higgins, Janet Suzman, Anne-Louise Lambert


Set in a richly exaggerated 17th-century England, Peter Greenaway’s witty, stylised, erotic country house murder mystery catapulted him to the forefront of international art cinema. Adorned with intricate wordplay, extravagant costumes and opulent photography, Greenaway’s first narrative feature weaves a labyrinthine mystery around the maxim “draw what you see, not what you know.” An aristocratic wife commissions a young, cocksure draughtsman to sketch her husband’s property while he is away—in exchange for a fee, room and board, and one sexual favor for each of the twelve drawings. As the draughtsman becomes more entrenched in the devious scheming in this seemingly idyllic country home, curious details emerge in his drawings that may reveal a murder.

Jac Batey has produced numerous artist books, zines, animations and other artworks that offer satirical takes on political and social issues of the day. Her work is collected by over eighty public museums, including the Yale Collection of British Art, USA; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA; Tate Britain, UK; Institute of International Visual Arts, UK; Joan Flasch Collection, USA; Bedeteca de Lisboa, Portugal and the Sheridan Zine Library, Canada. Jac says that she has chosen The Draughtsman's Contract because of the way that "drawing holds the film together but the artist is not necessarily what they seem." Drawing in this film, becomes a form of research, remembering and showing off.