How a famous artist painted his own fear, and for this he was called a madman
How a famous artist painted his own fear, and for this he was called a madman

Video: How a famous artist painted his own fear, and for this he was called a madman

Video: How a famous artist painted his own fear, and for this he was called a madman
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Nightmare in the minds of people from different eras
Nightmare in the minds of people from different eras

The Swiss Johann Heinrich Fussli spent most of his life in England, where he studied painting, graphics, theory and art history. But the artist is known for mystical canvases, which depict nightmares and fantastic visions that torment millions of people.

Nightmare. Henry Fuseli
Nightmare. Henry Fuseli

For a long time, a nightmare (or mara) was considered an evil spirit that comes in the dark and strangles people. This demon can take many forms, including the most terrible creatures. In Western culture, the nightmare was often associated with a blind horse, which was considered to be something satanic.

Another version of "Nightmare". Henry Fuseli, 1790-1791
Another version of "Nightmare". Henry Fuseli, 1790-1791

For many years, this topic of night fears was an unspoken taboo among people of art, until at the end of the 18th century, a series of works by Johann Heinrich Füssli, a Swiss artist representing the Gothic movement in modern art, appeared.

He spent most of his life in London under the name Henry Fuseli, where he left behind more than 800 canvases and drawings. His work anticipated the further popularity of 19th century Victorian fairytale painting, which combined folklore imagery, hallucinations and fairytale plots.

Nightmare. Henry Fuseli, 1781
Nightmare. Henry Fuseli, 1781

The most famous work of Henry Fuseli is the painting "Nightmare". The canvas depicts a sleeping girl, on whose chest a crumpled evil demon is sitting. A blind horse peeks out of the folds of fabric in the background. There are four known versions of "Nightmare" by Fuseli, as well as several works by his followers.

Nowadays, as well as several centuries ago, people are haunted by nightmares
Nowadays, as well as several centuries ago, people are haunted by nightmares
Visit of the Night Witch (Lapland Witch). Henry Fuseli, 1796
Visit of the Night Witch (Lapland Witch). Henry Fuseli, 1796

These canvases depict the fear experienced by 5 to 20 percent of people in their lives. A phenomenon called sleep paralysis occurs when a person falls asleep or wakes up. At this moment, he can see and hear, but is unable to move. At the same time, there is strong pressure on the chest, suffocation. Edge vision can detect the presence of someone else in the room. The body can give out hallucinations that are perceived as reality.

My dream, my bad dream. Fritz Schwimbeck, 1915
My dream, my bad dream. Fritz Schwimbeck, 1915
Scene with a witch. Henry Fuseli, 1785
Scene with a witch. Henry Fuseli, 1785

People of past centuries could not explain these unusual phenomena, they could only describe them. And Fuseli succeeded best of all, whose work has always been on the verge of fantasy and reality. Horace Walpole, the author of the first Gothic novel, actually said that the artist was "amazingly insane, insane as never before, insane completely and completely."

Nightmare. Nikolai Abildgaard, 1800
Nightmare. Nikolai Abildgaard, 1800
Silence. Henry Fuseli, 1799-1801
Silence. Henry Fuseli, 1799-1801

Nevertheless, the phantasmagoric "Nightmare" has attracted the attention of many people for two centuries. It is known that a reproduction of the painting hung in the reception room of Sigmund Freud. But few people know that the famous psychoanalyst, specialist in fear he himself suffered from numerous phobias.

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