FUSELI, John Henry
(b. 1741, Zurich, d. 1825, London)
Oil on canvas, 221 x 160 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Fuseli was the second son of the Zurich portraitist and author Johann Caspar Fussli. His early contact with the teachings of Johann Jakob Bodmer familiarized him with the figures of world literature, which were to remain a major source of inspiration throughout his career. Ordained in 1761 as a pastor in the Zwinglian Reformed Church, he left Zurich two years later for political reasons, traveling by way of Berlin to London, where he settled. Initially Fuseli made his living by writing, while engaged in illustrating the works of his favourite authors, particularly William Shakespeare.
The painting represents a scene from Shakespeare's Macbeth. It shows Lady Macbeth as a a sleep-walker in the corridor of a fortress. The terrified eyes of Lady Macbeth, by now lost between reality and nightmare, clutch at the viewer, almost as though trying to capture him and carry him off into her own unknown dimension.