John Henry Fuseli/ Johann Heinrich Füssli, The Nightmare

The Detroit Institute of Arts

Date: c. 1782
Technique: Oil on canvas, 1210 x 1473 x 89 mm

This painting created a sensation when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1782. What is the subject of this painting? We may never be sure; Fuseli wanted his picture to intrigue us. The leering imp may embody the physical effects of a nightmare, or be an emblem of sexual desire. Is this picture an allegory, an illustration of a literary source, or something more personal?


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