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Fuseli was born in 1741 in Zurich. His father, Johann Caspar Fussli, was a painter and writer who pressured him into studying theology and becoming a Zwinglian minister. After rejecting the ministry in 1762, Fuseli studied philosophy in Berlin. He learned eight languages before traveling in 1764 to London, where, under the encouragement of Sir Joshua Reynolds, he became a painter. He left England in 1768 to study in Italy until 1778. During his stay in Rome he studied the works of Michelangelo and classical art, which became his major stylistic influences; his subject matter was chiefly literary. Fuseli is famous for his paintings and drawings of nude figures caught in strained and violent poses suggestive of intense emotion. He also had a affinity for inventing chilling fantasies, such as that in “The Nightmare” (1781). He had a noticeable influence on the style of his younger contemporary, William Blake.
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