Henry Fuseli, Celadon and Amelia, 1821

In 1718 Alexander Pope recounted a story about two lovers: John Hewet and Sarah Drew. The two went walking in the woods when a storm came upon them and Sarah was struck by lightning. To John’s horror, she died then and there in his arms. Between the years of 1726-30, James Thomson published ‘The Four Seasons,’ a book of four poems, each named for the four seasons. He takes Pope’s story and changes the names of the lovers to Celadon and Amelia. When Amelia is frightened by the oncoming storm, Celadon takes her in his arms and says “tis safety to be near thee, sure, and thus to clasp perfection.” Thomson’s book was popular for century after its publication; the stories within influenced many artists like Turner, Gainsborough, and Fuseli. In this painting Fuseli gives us the moment after the lightning strike, when Celadon picks up Amelia’s pale and lifeless body.

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