Henry Fuseli’s “The Nightmare”
When English author Horace Walpole saw this painting at the Royal Academy in London in 1782, he used one word to describe it: “shocking.”
Owned by Richard Mansergh St. George's best friend, Sir Brooke Boothby, Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare dismayed some critics. It depicted an imagined sensation, not something real or historical. Others saw the emotional value of painting a nightmare because nightmares are personal experiences that are often illogical and difficult to convey with words.
St. George admired Fuseli’s talents and probably appreciated Fuseli’s artistic courage to break boundaries of the period and paint intense, dark emotions, some of which he personally experienced. St. George’s familiarity with The NightmareW may have led to his friendship with Henry Fuseli.
Painted by Henry Fuseli
Oil on Canvas
Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Bert L. Smokler and Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence A. Fleischman, 55.5.A
Born in Switzerland, Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) spent the height of his painting career in England. At the Royal Academy in London, he exhibited alongside Thomas Gainsborough (who also painted Richard Mansergh St. George), Joshua Reynolds, and Benjamin West.
Painted by James Northcote
Oil on Canvas
© National Portrait Gallery, London