Dark Romanticism covers segments of literature and art which emerged prior to the French Revolution. Its tenants highlight the dark side, irrationality and the excess hidden behind the apparent triumph of reason and Enlightnement. It first started with English Gothic novels that exploited the terrors and fears mankind faces when dealing with the unknown and superstitions.

Dark Romanticism isn't a genre but rather an aesthetic and this concept spread throughout Europe including countries such as, France, England, Spain or Germany which in turn was influenced by Surrealism. A literary example which is worth noting is the English Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole in 1764. This literary genre appealed to the public for its elements of the macabre, mystery and the supernatural.

For this, Dark Romanticism in literature inspired countless painters in creating paintings that are fascinating and disturbing at the same time. Some literary heroines met a tragic destiny: Hell, death, and madness fell upon characters like Hamlet's Ophelia, Lénore or Faust's Marguerite.

Many painters had dark literature as a main source of inspiration for their macabre and grotesque take on horror stories, myths and legends, and many literary texts with a deep understanding of human nature. Those said paintings include demons, witches and other unnerving creatures or entities. Some of the most illustrated works are Milton's Paradise Lost with John Martin's Pandemonium and his emphasis on Hell. Also, French artists went ahead and got inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy. Bouguereau too inspiration from Inferno's 8th circle and painted the characters of Dante and Virgile in which Gianni Schicchi is senn biting one of his companions and this scene evokes the omnipresent figure of the vampire and canibalism.

Johann Füssli was one of the first masters of Dark Romanticism in art. He was part of the neoclassical movement in Italy. His paintings express an incredible anguish. His well known paintings, The Nightmare, in which a woman is laying in her bed with a demon like creature on top of her. This is a representation of supernatural and superstitions. Just like in old Germanic fairy tales where horses, witches and demons visit women who have intercourse with the Devil. Many of the art historians wonder about the nature of the painting, whether it deals with popular beliefs, a nightmare, or perhaps an unconscious desire.

There are also paintings that illustrate witchcraft and witches. Goya's thoughts on witches, magical creatures, or superstitions were that they are but a lie and his paintings on the matter are a sort of satire and mockery of the people's obsession with superstitions and popular beliefs.

His Flight of the Witches, 3 witches take away a man to devour him, just like vampires would do, and the donkey actually represents the blindness of human beings when dealing with myths and how they would believe in such things. For Goya, the with and other mythical monsters are the fruits of man's imagination and the a sense of reason will create ghoulish creatures.

In Germany, Dark Romanticism was the present through dark and eerie landscapes, from artists such as Von Schwind, Carl Blechen, or Caspar David Friedrich. The diffident elements used in the paintings are ruins, forests, lugubrious buildings, nocturnal creatures under unsettling skies. The general idea behind the representation of darkness in relation to nature is a reminder of the latter's mightiness and mankind's insignificance before nature's greatness.