The Peacock Skirt - Aubrey Beardsley, 1893
The Nightmare depicts a young, sleeping woman who has a demonic creature sitting on her chest. In the background of the painting, a pale horse is staring with empty, white eyes. Fuseli painted at least two versions of the same theme, this one in the year 1802. The first version, painted in the year 1782, became more famous. It has been suggested that the woman in the painting is Fuseli’s beloved Anna Landolt, whose parents refused to allow her to marry him. Thus The Nightmare could be interpreted as an allegory of disappointment.
Interestingly, the painting can also be seen as a vivid depiction of a sleeping disorder, the sleep paralysis. People who have suffered from it say that they felt the presence of something extremely evil and threatening in the room, and usually something pressing their body while they could not move at all nor make a sound.
In Old English, such an evil being was called a mare, related to mara, a malignant female entity in old Scandinavian folklore. The Finnish word for a bad dream, painajainen, which is still used in everyday language, translates as “a pressing thing”. Additionally, it has been said that the sleep paralysis disorder could explain the concept of the evil spirits succubi and incubi.
HBICs of history » S i m o n e t t a V e s p u c c i
Simonetta (1453-1476) was an Italian renaissance noblewoman from Genoa and the wife of Marco Vespucci of Florence. She was renowned for being the greatest beauty of her age - certainly of the city of Florence - hence her nickname la bella Simonetta.
At the age of fifteen or sixteen she married Marco Vespucci who was a distant cousin of the Florentine explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci. Marco was accepted by Simonetta’s father, and he was very much in love with her, so the marriage was logical. Her parents also knew the marriage would be advantageous because Marco’s family was well connected in Florence, especially to the Medici family.
Simonetta was instantly popular at the Florentine court. The Medici brothers, Lorenzo and Giuliano took an instant liking towards her. Lorenzo permitted the Vespucci wedding to be held at the palazzo in Via Larga, and held the wedding reception at their lavish Villa di Careggi. Through the Vespucci family Simonetta was discovered by Sandro Botticelli and other prominent painters upon arriving in Florence. Before long every nobleman in the city was besotted with her, even the brothers Lorenzo and Giuliano of the ruling Medici family. Lorenzo was occupied with affairs of state, but his younger brother was free to pursue her.
At La Giostra (a jousting tournament) in 1475, held at the Piazza Santa Croce, Giuliano entered the lists bearing a banner on which was a picture of Simonetta as a helmeted Pallas Athene painted by Botticelli himself, beneath which was the French inscription La Sans Pareille, meaning “The unparalleled one”. It is unknown, however, if they actually became lovers.
Simonetta died just one year later, on the night of 26–27 April 1476, probably from tuberculosis. She was only 22 at the time of her death. The entire city was reported to mourn her death and thousands followed her coffin to its burial. It is suggested that Botticelli was in love with her since he requested to be buried at her feet - his wish was in fact carried out when he died some 34 years later, in 1510.
Elizabeth, Countess of Warwick by Sir Joshua Reynolds, ca 1780 England, the Frick Collection
Paintings in Detail: Pastels, part I
Romeo and Juliet by Ford Madox Brown (1870)
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Français 403, detail of f. 23v (worshipping the Beast). Bible (Revelation). Salisbury, c. 1250.
It’s shit like this, Middle Ages.
Francois Lemoine, Heracles and Omphale, 1724
Vision Of Faust (detail)by Luis Ricardo Falero (1878)
Today I will be enjoying the famous Amber Room at the Catherine Palace, just outside of St. Petersburg, among the site’s many marvels.
Andreas Schlüter (sculptor), built by Gottfried Wolfram, Amber Room, began 1701-1709, given by Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I to Tsar Peter the Great…
George Elgar Hicks, Girl seated (1875)