King Hobgoblin Sleeping was designed in Paris. Sometimes amidst the bustling art scene of the city, Hugo Simberg withdrew into his own world, making pictures of death, woodland spirits and fairy tale folk. In this painting the king is tired, and so are the other hobgoblins. They have slept long, as the spider has obviously been spinning its web for quite some time. However, it is soon time to wake up, and some are already opening their eyes. But it may also be that the king is dead. Maybe the spider, as often in folklore, is a symbol of death. And on closer observation, even the sleep of the other hobgoblins looks unnatural, as they have been propped up with crutches. All interpretations are equally possible, since the painting is not based on any known fairy tale, story or myth.


  • Title: King Hobgoblin Sleeping
  • Creator: Hugo Simberg
  • Date Created: 1896
  • Physical Dimensions: w28 x h20 cm
  • Inventory number: A II 968:19
  • Dimensions: 20 x 28 cm
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: Ateneum Art Museum, http://www.fng.fi/informationandresearch/photographicservice
  • Medium: Watercolour and gouache on paper

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