Exhibition | Füssli: The Realm of Dreams and the Fantastic

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on September 7, 2022

Henry Fuseli, The Dream of Queen Catherine of Aragon (Shakespeare, Henry VIII, Act 4, Scene 2), detail, 1781, oil on canvas, 147 × 211 cm
(Borough of Fylde, Lancashire: Lytham St Annes Art Collection, no. 52).

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Opening this month at the Musée Jacquemart-André:

Füssli: The Realm of Dreams and the Fantastic / Füssli, entre rêve et fantastique
Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, 16 September 2022 — 23 January 2023

Curated by Christopher Baker and Andreas Beyer

This autumn discover the oeuvre of the Swiss-born British painter Henry Fuseli (Johann Heinrich Füssli, 1741–1825). Comprising sixty works from public and private collections, the exhibition presents a selection of the most emblematic of works by Füssli, the artist of the imaginary and the sublime. From Shakespearean themes to representations of dreams, nightmares, and apparitions, and mythological and Biblical illustrations, Füssli forged a new aesthetic that shifted between reality and the fantastic.

Henry Fuseli, Self-Portrait, 1780s, black and white chalk on buff paper (London: V&A Museum, E.1028-1918).

The son of a painter and art historian, Henry Füssli was trained as a priest and started his artistic career relatively late, during a first trip to London, where he was influenced by the President of the Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds. After a long stay in Italy, during which he was especially fascinated by the power of Michelangelo’s works, he settled in London at the end of the 1770s. An atypical and intellectual artist, Füssli drew his inspiration from the literary sources that he interpreted imaginatively. In his paintings he developed a dreamlike and dramatic pictorial language, with its blend of the marvellous and the fantastic, the sublime and the grotesque.

Come explore Füssli’s oeuvre, which has not been the subject of a monographic exhibition in Paris since 1975: from works that represent Shakespeare’splays (particularly Macbeth), onto those depicting mythological and biblical tales, the female figures represented in his graphic works and the themes of nightmares, a truly Füselian obsession, dreams, and apparitions.

Füssli developed a fantastic vein that was quite marginal at the time, as it distorted academic rules. In 1782, he presented his first version of Nightmare, an emblematic work drawn from his imagination that truly established his career as a painter. Elected Associate Member of the Royal Academy in 1788, and Academician in 1790, Füssli, while working in a serial fashion, embodied the quest for the sublime that was all the rage in England at the time.

Discover the striking works of the artist—works that are all too rare in French collections—by a highly original painter whose oeuvre was paradoxical, inspired by an imagination in which terror and horror were combined, forming the aesthetic origins of Dark Romanticism (‘romantisme noir’).

Christopher Baker and Andreas Beyer, et al., Füssli, entre rêve et fantastique (Brussels: Fonds Mercator, 2022), 208 pages, €40.

In addition, works from the exhibition are featured in a 44-page special edition of Connaissance des Arts (€11) and an 84-page special edition of Beaux-Arts magazine (€14).

More information is included in the full press packet.

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