Monday, 10 August 2015

The Nightmare

Pictured below, Henry Fuseli's 1781 oil painting The Nightmare... Fuseli is name-dropped in Lovecraft's 1926 story Pickman's Model, about a painter of morbid visions, and one could imagine a young Howard Philip Lovecraft gazing with wonder at a print of Fuseli's most famous work. I love the story, apocryphal or not, of Fuseli eating raw pork chops before bed time to invoke dark and unpleasant dreams. The Nightmare has been copied and parodied since its first exhibition at the Royal Academy of London in 1782, and the scene depicted in the painting has colonized much of the Gothic fiction that followed. I remember the first time I saw the painting, I instantly recognized it from Ken Russell's Gothic, and I would wager that Murnau had the painting in mind when Count Orlok enters Ellen's bedroom in Nosferatu. Wikipedia has a good entry on the painting and offers an excellent high-res blow-up


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