Henry Fuseli

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Fuseli, Henry

(fyo͞o`zĭlē), 1741–1825, Anglo-Swiss painter and draftsman, b. Zürich. He was known also as Johann Heinrich Fuessli or Füssli. He took holy orders but never practiced the priesthood. Fuseli went (c.1763) to England and studied in London, where Joshua Reynolds befriended him. He spent a few years in Italy, where he made the studies for his famous series of nine paintings for Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery. Returning to England, he exhibited a number of works of a grotesque and visionary type, including the celebrated Nightmare (1782). His own Milton Gallery housed a series of his paintings illustrating the poet's works. His drawings, of which he left over 800, further reveal his romantic fascination with the terrifying and weird. Fuseli admired and encouraged William Blake. Some of his lectures to the Royal Academy have been published.


See studies by F. Antal (1956), P. A. Tomory (1972), and G. Schiff (2 vol., 1974).

Fuseli, Henry


(originally named Johann Heinrich Füssli). Born Feb. 6, 1741, in Zürich; died Apr. 16, 1825, at Putney Hill, near London. Swiss artist and writer of the early romantic movement.

Fuseli lived chiefly in England, settling in London in 1765. From 1770 to 1778 he lived in Italy, where he moved principally in the circle of J. J. Winkelmann. In 1790, Fuseli became a member of the Royal Academy of Arts; he was a professor of painting and a curator there from 1799 to 1810 and again from 1810 to 1825. His paintings and virtuoso drawings frequently combined a classical idealization of images with impetuous gloomy fantasy, elements of the grotesque, and, at times, keen observation of life. Fuseli was also a poet, historian, and art theorist.


Nekrasova, E. A. Romantizm v angliiskom iskusstve. Moscow, 1975. Pages 20–44.
Antal, F. Fuseli Studies. London, 1956.
Schiff, G. Johann Heinrich Füssli: 1741–1825, vols. 1–2. Zörich-Munich [1973],
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For me at least--in the circumstances then surrounding me--there arose out of the pure abstractions which the hypochondriac contrived to throw upon his canvas, an intensity of intolerable awe, no shadow of which felt I ever yet in the contemplation of the certainly glowing yet too concrete reveries of Fuseli.
Appropriately one of the sections of the Albertina exhibition is to be devoted to the theme of 'Dark Romanticism', which will explore the era's interest in nightmares, lunatic asylums and the mentally unwell, as found in the works of artists such as Goya, Gericault and Fuseli.
It will focus on those pivotal Shakespeare plays which have motivated artists across the ages - from Singer Sargent, Fuseli, Watts and Romneyi to Tom Hunter and other contemporary artists - exploring the enduring appeal of the Elizabethan playwright.
IT IS a tribute to the greatness of these paintings that they evoke so many masters of the past: Giotto, Giovanni Bellini, Masaccio, Blake, Fuseli, Stanley Spencer.
Among the stars of the genre are Joshua Reynolds, Henry Fuseli, George Romney, Richard Dadd, and William Blake.
In their construction and use of narrative, the paintings call to mind the works of Goya and Delacroix and particularly Fuseli with his celebrated painting The Nightmare.
Henry Fuseli is said to have remarked that fellow Romantic William Blake was "damned good to steal from".
To complete his introductory chapter, Whitfield then cites the work of such outstanding artists as Fuseli, Delacroix, and Abbey as somehow representative of the epitome of this change, arguing that "[w]hat these artists were aiming at was not merely to give a plain, simple, instantly recognisable snapshot from some part of a play, but to create an image that was memorable in itself, that became a work of art in its own right--and that, as it did so, might subtly alter the way we view that play" (14).
However, as Beth Lau notes, since Fuseli "selected any discrete, descriptive passage that appealed to him" it would have been difficult to follow the narrative unless one was already intimately familiar with the poem.
Three centuries later the darkly imaginative works by Fuseli and Piranesi (Clark 1976:45-67), as well as the naive paintings of Henri Rousseau (Arnason 1998:81) add to the list of artists who broke with the dictates of realism.
Gregory's contemporary, Sir Robert Phillimore, remarked on the influence of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir Henry Fuseli, and John Opie, Presidents and Professors of Paintings of the Royal Academy.