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Etching and engraving, 1784 by Laurede. Weinglass 67a, after the painting
exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1782 for two years, and now at the
Detroit Institute of Arts. Our engraving followed by two years the stipple
engraving by Thomas Burke for which Fuseli was paid twenty guineas.
Laurede’s version must have been produced without the participation of Fuseli.
A brilliant impression in excellent fresh condition, with margins, window
mounted in a large album sheet above a circular engraving by Goepfert, after
Guido Reni, L’Instruction Satyrique. All versions are now very rare.
The Nightmare represents Fuseli’s preoccupation with sexuality, the
unconscious and fantasy that lies at the heart of his art. The image was
enormously popular, going through at least eleven different versions. The verses
below from Erasmus Darwin’s poem The Botanic Garden (Part II) were
apparently supplied through Fuseli himself 1 .
The original inscription, repeated verbatim in the Laurede version, “- on his
Night-Mare, thro the evening fog/Flits the squab fiend o’er fen, and lake, and
bog, /Seeks some love-wilder’d maid, by sleep opprest, /Alights and grinning,
sits upon her breast.” suggests that ‘squad fiend’ carried by the night-riding
horse exerts an occult force upon females, urging them toward sexual abandon.