Old Masters Academy

Elegant Art Humour: FUSELI’S “NIGHTMARE.”


Soon after his return to England, Fuseli painted his “Nightmare,” which was exhibited in 1782. It was unquestionably the work of an original mind. “The extraordinary and peculiar genius which it displayed,” says one of his biographers, “was universally felt, and perhaps no single picture ever made a greater impression in this country. A very fine mezzotinto engraving of it was scraped by Raphael Smith, and so popular did the print become, that, although Mr. Fuseli received only twenty guineas for the picture, the publisher made five hundred by his speculation.” This was a subject suitable to the unbridled fancy of the painter, and perhaps to no other imagination has the Fiend which murders our sleep ever appeared in a more poetical shape.

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