Contrary to a widespread assumption, an intensive artistic preoccupation with occult and esoteric subjects existed long before the modern era. Visions, the ability to see into the future and clairvoyance, moving tables, paranormal appearances and innumerable other phenomena, which are associated with Mesmerism, have always held incredible fascination for artists.
This work represents the first art historical examination of Mesmerism and hypnosis in the fine arts from 1775 to 1912. Anchored in the disciplines of the natural sciences, the history of medicine and the history
of philosophy, as well as literary studies, works by artists such as Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, Ludwig Ferdinand Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Carl Gustav Carus, Max Klinger, James Tissot, Alfons Mucha and Albert von Keller are illuminated in case studies.