Johann Heinrich Fussli, most commonly known as Henry Fuseli, was born in Zurich, Switzerland, in February 1741. He had an extensive family and was one of the oldest of eighteen siblings. He became famous for painting supernatural and dream-like scenes.
Fuseli's artistic influence began at home, as his father, Johann Caspar Fussli, was an author and painter, focusing on landscapes and portraits. Although the young Fuseli was influenced by his father's profession, he began a classical education with the intent of serving the church. During this period, Fuseli befriended the philosopher and poet, Kaspar Lavater.
By 1765, Fuseli was visiting England, after traveling through Germany some years prior, as he was forced out of his country for exposing a corrupt magistrate along with his friend Lavater. During this time, Fuseli worked mostly as a writer, although he had proximity to the world of art and painting. It was after showing his work to the esteemed portrait painter Sir Joshua Reynolds that he would have the incentive to pursue an artistic career.
The Swiss artist moved to Italy in 1770, where he lived for eight years and changed his name to Fuseli - an Italian influence. He returned to London, where he received several commissions. Fuseli and his former model, Sophia Rawlins, married in 1788. By this period, he became a part of the Royal Academy, and two years later he concluded Thor In the Boat of Hymir. This masterpiece guaranteed his spot as a full Academician.
About eleven years after Fuseli entered the Academy, he began working as a professor, a position he resigned for several years, when he was assigned as a Keeper in the Academy. He eventually took both roles at once and continued until his death. During his time as a professor, Fuseli had many notable pupils, including the young William Blake, William Etty, Sir Edwin Landseer, Benjamin Haydon, and John Constable.
Fuseli hit a slop in his career by the turn of the century, as he exhibited a series of almost fifty paintings based on the work of the poet John Milton, which he took approximately nine years to conclude. The art show was not well received and failed economically, closing soon after. He struggled with his reputation for some years, until his art was presented to the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova. Fuseli's new fame in Rome lead him to be elected as a first-class member of the prestigious St. Luke's Academy.
Johann Henry Fuseli produced over 200 artworks throughout his career. He passed away at 84 years old, in Putney Hill, London, established as a successful artist.