A Brit a Day [#923]

Today’s Brit was going to be The Bard Himself, but while I was looking for something poetic to quote, I came across this magnificent rendering of Hamlet and his father’s ghost–

The artist is an 18th century Swiss who lived most of his life in England [and therefore gets to be today’s Brit of the Day], Henry Fuseli.  Fuseli was a very complicated cat who is best known for his painting “The Nightmare”–

Wikipedia offers up this explanation of the painting:

A few years before he painted The Nightmare, Fuseli had fallen passionately in love with a woman named Anna Landholdt in Zürich, while he was traveling from Rome to London. Landholdt was the niece of his friend, the Swiss physiognomist Johann Kaspar Lavater. Fuseli wrote of his fantasies to Lavater in 1779: 

“Last night I had her in bed with me—tossed my bedclothes hugger-mugger—wound my hot and tight-clasped hands about her—fused her body and soul together with my own—poured into her my spirit, breath and strength. Anyone who touches her now commits adultery and incest! She is mine, and I am hers. And have her I will.…[10]”

 Fuseli’s marriage proposal met with disapproval from the woman’s father, and in any case Fuseli’s love seems to have been unrequited—Landholdt married a family friend soon after. The Nightmare, then, can be seen as a personal portrayal of the erotic aspects of love lost.

I think Fuseli would have fared better in his marriage proposal if he had kept his wet dreams about Anna to himself rather than exposing them to her uncle, but who am I?

If you want to read more about “The Nightmare”, go here:


And more about Fuseli, who had the uncommon good fortune to be famous for his art in his own lifetime, is here: