Henry Fuseli was a master of romantic imaginary. He was one of those artists who shaped our vision of the epoch. That scary vision.
He was born in Zürich, Switzerland under the last name of Füssli. After Fuseli was forced to leave his mother country he travelled through Germany, and then, in 1765, visited England, where he supported himself for some time by miscellaneous writing. Eventually, he became acquainted with Sir Joshua Reynolds, to whom he showed his drawings. Following Reynolds’ advice, he decided to devote himself entirely to art. And that was a good choice, thanks to it this, the most famous painting of Fuseli was created:
Before leaving Switzerland Fuseli had a mentor, Johann Jakob Bodmer, whom he most revered, to Homer, the Nibelungenlied, Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton, the principal sources of his art. The associations with the Sturm und Drang movement of Bodmer were close. Good atmosphere to grow in!
Fuseli established his reputation with The Nightmare in 1780. Involved from the outset in 1786 with John Boydell’s scheme for employing the most talented artists of the day on a Shakespeare Gallery, he devoted most of his time to paintings of Shakespearean.
In 1799 Fuseli exhibited a series of paintings from subjects furnished by the works of John Milton, with a view to forming a Milton gallery comparable to Boydell’s Shakespeare gallery but it didn’t become a success and was closed in 1800.
Fuseli was largely neglected after his death until his rediscovery in the early 20th century by Expressionist painters and Surrealist artists, who admired his romantic subjectivism, complex symbolism and bold composition.