Fuessli, John Gaspard

, a Swiss artist, and a man of considerable learning, was born at Zurich in 1706. After acquiring the elements of painting from a very indifferent artist, he left his country in the eighteenth year of his age, and going to Vienna, associated himself with Sedelmeier. Gran and Meitens were his principal guides, if he could be said to have any other guide than his own genius. He became well known at court, but his love of independence induced him to refuse very advantageous offers. He would not, however, have probably ever left Vienna, had not the prince of Schwarzeuburg persuaded him to go to Kadstadt, where he became the favourite of the court. Among others whose portraits he painted was the margrave of Dourlach, who had a great affection for him, and advised him to go to Ludwigsbourg, which he did with letters of recommendation to the duke of Wirtemberg, who immediately took him into his service. Here he passed his time very agreeably, making occasional excursions to paint the portraits of persons of distinction, until the war of Poland, when the entrance of the French into Germany threw every thing into confusion. The duke his patron at the same time fell sick, and was removed to Stutgard, but on Fuessli’s leaving him to go to Nuremberg, his highness presented him with a gold watch, and requested him to return when the state of public affairs was changed. At Nuremberg he had a strong desire to see the celebrated artist Kupezki, of whose manners he had imbibed an unfavourable impression, but he was agreeably disappointed, and they became friends from their first interview. After remaining six months at Nuremberg, the duke of Wirtemberg died, and there being no immediate prospect of peace, Fuessli returned to his own country, and in 1740 married. Although his wife was a very amiable woman, he used to say that marriage was incompatible with the cultivation of the fine arts: if, however, he felt himself occasionally disturbed by domestic cares, he had the happiness to communicate his art to his three sons, Rodolph, who settled at Vienna; Henry, at present so well known in England; and Caspar, who died in the vigour of life, an entomologist of fidelity, discrimination, and taste.

Fuessli’s talents and reputation procured him the friendship of the greatest artists of his time, and Mengs sent him his treatise “on the beautiful,” which he published with a preface. Winkelmann, especially, lived in great intimacy | with him. His taste for poetry also procured him the ao quaintance and correspondence of Keist, Klopstock, Wieland, Bodmer, and Breitinguer, nor was he less respected by many persons of the first distinction in rank, and his house was frequented by all the literati of his time, whom he delighted by his conversation-talents. Nor was he inconsiderable as a patron of the arts. He gave lessons gratis to many young persons, and made collections to assist them in their studies and travels, employing his interest with the great only for the benefit of genius and talents. In 1740 and 1742 he had the misfortune to lose his two friends Kupezki and Rugendas, both whose lives he wrote, and this employment seems to have suggested to him “The Lives of the Artists of Switzerland,” which he wrote with great elegance and critical discrimination. He published also a “Catalogue raisonne” of the best Engravings.“His own collection was uncommonly rich in the finest specimens of that art. Of his paintings, his son appeals to the series of consular portraits, which he painted after his return to Zurich, engraved in mezzotinto by Preisler and others, as a fair test of his style and tasteHe died at Zurich, May 6, 1781. His lives of Rugendas and Kupezki were published at Zurich in 1758; his Swiss Artists in 5 vols. 1769 1779; and his Catalogue of Engravers and their works, in 1770. Besides these he published” Winkelmann’s Letters to his friends in Switzerland,“1778, and Mengs” On Beauty," in 1770. 1

1 Meister’s Portraits of Illustrious Men of Switzerland. Pilkington’s Dict. by Fuseli.