This Romantic painting by Henry Fuseli represents a sleeping woman, a horse, and an incubus. It is perceived that the painting was intended to represent both the woman and of her nightmare subjects. The woman is draped over the end of a bed with her head hanging of the side. She is surmounted by an incubus that peers out at the viewer. The subject of the painting is very rooted in Christian myths of demons. The incubus in the painting is a demon in the myths said to visit women in their sleep and mount them for sexual intercourse. This myth was likely used to deter people from sleeping alone. People during this time did not know about sleep paralysis and associated it with a devil sitting on your chest as you fell asleep, as a weight on your chest is a symptom of sleep paralysis. The horse
Why This Artwork?
This artwork was chosen to show the differing subjects of the Romantic artists and the Neoclassical artists. It also helps to show a new interest in the subconsciousness, an important subject that was later explored by artists, giving this painting importance.