il Gotico nell’arte – Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare

The painting which describes at best the idea of the Gothic novel is The Nightmare ( 1781) an oil painting (= dipinto ad olio) by Anglo-Swiss artist Henry Fuseli (1741–1825).
It was exhibited in 1782 at the Royal Academy of London, and other three versions of the painting were made by the same artist. It portrays (= ritrae) a dreaming woman and her nightmare (= incubo). The horse’s head and the elf (the incubus) refer to traditional belief and folklore about nightmares: Germanic tales told about demons and witches that possessed people sleeping alone.
The interpretations of the painting are various. Among the most popular are those related to (= relative) its representation of the sublimation of the sexual instincts. Other view the incubus as a dream symbol of male libido, with the sexual act represented by the horse’s intrusion through the curtain.
But Fuseli did not comment on his painting. Fuseli used a chairoscuro effect that creates strong contrasts between light and shade (= luce ed ombra). Some scholars as anticipating Freudian ideas about the subconscious.