Deeply affected by his friendship with the composer Franz Schubert, Moritz von Schwind developed a passion for music. He long dreamed of painting a monumental cycle of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute (1791).
In 1863 he was finally commissioned to paint frescoes of that subject for the newly built Vienna Opera House. Schwind created a striking vision of the mysterious Queen of the Night, whose commanding appearance in Act 1, backlit by the giant moon, takes on cosmic dimensions. This drawing embodies the confluence of art and music characteristic of German Romanticism.