Morton Paley offers evidence for interpreting Fuseli’s The Nightmare as relating to his unfulfilled infatuation with Anna Landolt:
“When The Nightmare was examined after its acquisition by the Detroit Institute of Arts, it was found to have on its back, concealed by a piece of pasted-on canvas, a portrait that could serve as an excellent example of the Burkean beautiful. It is an alluring image of a young woman with fine features and delicately rounded shoulders….The subject…may be the niece of Fuseli’s friend Johann Caspar Lavater, Anna Landolt, with whom Fuseli vainly fell in love in Zurich in 1799.”
Morton D. Paley, The Apocalyptic Sublime. (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 1986), p. 7.