FUSELI, John Henry
(b. 1741, Zurich, d. 1825, London)

The Nightmare

Oil on canvas, 101 x 127 cm
Institute of Arts, Detroit

Fuseli portrayed a young woman on the back of this painting. If it is true that both images are his beloved Anna Landolt, whose parents refused to allow her to marry him, then the Nightmare can be interpreted as an allegory of disappointment. In that case the grisly ape is the man who is ultimately allowed to "possess" the revered lady with his jealous glance. But it is at the price of her life, and Fuseli shows her sunk down and breathing her last.