Domenicus van Wijnen
Amsterdam 1658 - 1698
‘The Nightmare’; Scenes of Witchcraft
Depictions of witchcraft, sorcery and sinister scenes on this scale were somewhat of a speciality of van Wijnen. We know of three other paintings of this type by the artist and all show the dramatic lighting source, well thought out compoisition, full of horror, twisting shapes and violence. Two examples have been at auction at Sotheby's, one in 2003 (10th July, lot 130) and the second in 2016 (7th July, lot 131). The National Gallery of Ireland has a signed third example of 'The Temptation of St. Anthony' (NGI.527). Our example appears to show a well dressed young man sleeping who is clearly enduring some form of nightmare.
The light source from these three is usually artificial and shielded from direct view. In our painting van Wijnen has cleverly used the open window to throw light into the darkened room which, in a little show of a sense of humour, a donkey pokes his head through.
Private Collection, Austria