SLEEP MEDICINE, vol.19, pp.123-125, 2016 (SCI-Expanded)
Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770–1844) is one of the most remarkable representatives of Neoclassicist sculptural art in Europe, which was largely inspired by the classical art and culture of Greek and Roman antiquity. A pair of marble reliefs, Night and Day, exhibited in the Thorvaldsen Museum (Copenhagen), marks the culmination of Thorvaldsen's relief art and is of particular interest for the history of sleep medicine. In the first relief, Night, an angel with her neck bent and eyes closed has two babies in her embrace and seems to be floating down in grief, with an owl hovering behind her. Her hair is also twined with opium poppies, the symbol of sleep and death in antiquity. Our findings suggest that this relief not only indicates a mythological association between the opium poppy and sleep but also has a strong connotation with the poppy's medicinal use for inducing sleep throughout the centuries.