Fuseli, The Nightmare

Now, here are three paintings, each evocative of different (but related) strands of the visual “gothic.”

Fuseli, The Nightmare
<link is hidden> /> Wright, The Alchemist Discovering Phosphorus
<link is hidden> /> de Loutherbourg, Visitor to a Moonlit Churchyard
<link is hidden> /> In the first two cases, we have “descriptions” that attempt to account for the meaning of the various elements and the significance of their particular arrangement.

Your task is: try to do the same for the third by creating such a corresponding entry, entitled “Description,” on the Wiki [2]. For a starting point, you can use the Tate Gallery’s (but you need to both expand and modify it):

A figure stands in the overgrown ruins of an abbey, contemplating the remnants of an old painting showing the Resurrection. Above the figure of Christ a sundial throws a long moonlight shadow, suggesting the imminence of death and the possibility of Christian salvation. The ruin is identifiable as Tintern Abbey in the Wye Valley. This was one of the most visited tourist sites of the late eighteenth century, favoured because of its emotive historical associations with the Protestant Reformation.

What you will add to this original (above) is more psychological than historical: taking these historical facts and associations as given, try to figure out what it suggests to you and how your response might be crafted into an interpretation. Try and answer the question: “Why did the artist create it and what does it mean?”

For example, some critics have suggested that the open grave and the young man’s expression imply an intent (or an attempt) to raise the dead. What do you think?