Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Henri Fuseli (1741-1825)

As a painter, Fuseli favoured fantastical and supernatural themes which dominated British culture from around 1770-1850. He pitched everything on an ideal scale, believing a certain amount of exaggeration necessary in the higher branches of historical painting. In this theory he was confirmed by the study of Michelangelo's works. As the teacher of Joseph Turner, the similarity between the two artists' style and subject matter is clearly visible.

The top image- The Nightmare 1781 was first exhibited to the public in 1882 and has been an icon of horror ever since. The image depicts a woman apparently deep in slumber, while a beast representative of the devil crouches over her and a ferocious looking horse stares on. The painting draws from folk lore and popular culture, medicine, concepts of the imagination and classical art to create a new kind of highly charged horror image. The commissions for the subsequent two paintings were received from Alderman Boydell, who was then organizing his famous Shakespeare Gallery. Both depicting scenes from A Midsummer Nights Dream, the ethereal, atmospheric and yet oddly sinister feelings that the paintings evoke in me especially draw me to them.


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