Henry Fuseli (Johann Heinrich Füssli) (Swiss, 1741–1825)
Oil on canvas
40 x 49 3/4 in. (101.6 x 126.4 cm)
Purchase, Bequest of Lillian S. Timken, by exchange, and Victor Wilbour Memorial, The Alfred N. Punnett Endowment, Marquand and Charles B. Curtis Funds, 1980 (1980.411)
This canvas, first exhibited in 1799, was sold by the artist in 1808 to his biographer, John Knowles. It illustrates a passage from Paradise Lost (II:62266) in which the hellhounds surrounding Sin are compared to those who "follow the night-hag when, called, / In secret, riding through the air she comes, Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance / With Lapland witches, while the laboring moon Eclipses at their charms." "Night-hag" is an epithet of the Greek goddess Hecate, who presided over witchcraft and magical rites.