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Article
January 27, 1969

Henry Fuseli, Nightmare, and Sleep Paralysis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn.

JAMA. 1969;207(4):725-726. doi:10.1001/jama.1969.03150170051011
Abstract

Henry Fuseli painted "The Nightmare" in 1781 (see cover). The picture is dramatic, and it has been used to illustrate articles in professional journals. I believe the painting has several features of sleep paralysis, and my remarks are so directed.

Fuseli was an Anglo-Swiss painter and author, born in Zurich, Feb 7, 1741.1 His father was Johann Caspar Füssli, a court painter and town clerk. Henry Fuseli was educated at the Collegium Carolinum in Zurich. He started to study theology but left home because of problems stemming from a political publication. He went to Berlin, and then in 1764 to London on the recommendation of the British ambassador. The following year he translated into English J. J. Winckelmann's Reflections on the Painting And Sculpture of the Greeks. In 1770 he went to Italy to become a painter, having been encouraged by Sir Joshua Reynolds. He sent his first work

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