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Romanticism Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare, (1781), Detroit Institute of Arts

Published on March 3rd, 2017 | by Zuzanna Stanska

Henry Fuseli And His Fantasy World

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:

Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare, (1781), Detroit Institute of Arts

Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare, (1781), Detroit Institute of Arts

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!

Henry Fuseli, Friar Puck, Tabley House

Henry Fuseli, Friar Puck, Tabley House

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.

Henry Fuseli, Lady Macbeth Seizing the Daggers, Tate Britain

Henry Fuseli, Lady Macbeth Seizing the Daggers, Tate Britain

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.

Henry Fuseli, Percival Delivering Belisane from the Enchantment of Urma, 1783, Tate Modern

Henry Fuseli, Percival Delivering Belisane from the Enchantment of Urma, 1783, Tate Modern

 

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.

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About the Author

Art Historian, huge fan of Giorgione or Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Founder and CEO of DailyArtDaily.com and DailyArt mobile app. But to be honest, her greatest accomplishment is being the owner of Pimpek the Cat.



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