In what could be considered a real-life precursor to Shelley’s
Frankenstein, Fuseli; Or, A Vindication Of The Modern Prometheus,
is a nineteenth century epistolary Gothic novel written as a the
memoirs of Henry Fuseli, the Swiss born poet, author, artist,
historian, genius, Royal Academician; and inventor of the most
sublime paintings of Northern European Art; The Nightmare, most
This factual yet darkly enchanting historical fiction is relayed in
conversation with Mary Wollstonecraft, the first feminist author,
during one of the most transformative and politically volatile
periods in European history. It chronicles Fuseli's utterly
fascinating life and extensive circle comprised of the most notable
figures from the age of enlightenment. Written entirely in the
vernacular of its time, Fusel’s story begins in 1741 Zurich
describing his humble early life and ecclesiastical education, then
takes the reader on his journey throughout Europe as he pursues
his passions and the arts; from his self-directed study in Florence
and Rome to his later career as a painter in London. There he
begins a love affair with Wollstonecraft, as he attempts to attain his
legacy as the first Modern painter of his day.
Expertly researched, this novel contains astonishing revelations
that could rewrite history and deliver this complex and
controversial artist to his rightful place as not merely a proto-
Romantic painter, but the progenitor of modern western art.
I assure thy reader, as any adept student in the Art must agree, — the life of the Artist, Henry Fuseli, ESQ. M.
A.R.A., which the present work hereafter accounts, is indeed the same what the world knows him to have lived,
or so at least it must be presumed —then, by the provenance of a mind capable of fanciful reasoning —can it be
apprehended as truth. But the skeptical mind will remain so —beyond all evidential proof—as the latter has
been made from the cast of a different nature than you or I.
It has been a most fortuitous circumstance —securing this manuscript, such as I have done, and assembling
the various relevant materials into the present work has been a blessing of some-what sterner labour. —
Although, admittedly, I have had little hand in the general design as the preponderance of these materials had
been organized for copy or publication, ostensibly by Fuseli himself, and I have not much contended this plan.
As such, you will find some of the text is owed to other productions, as the Artist is at times repetitious to
previous concerns, which is significant, as I understand this was typical of Fuseli’s writing. By example, the
present work begins similarly to the Artist’s first publication: ‘Remarks on J.J. Rousseau;’ what has been lost,
but I trust you will pardon the various reiterations out of respect to the purpose of his scheme. Furthermore,
by my comparison, much of the chronology of events follows that of the posthumous biography: ‘The Life and
Times’ of the Artist, written by John Knowles, F.R.S. —a work long before the public eye, however, as the
present work has been written by Fuseli himself, various inaccuracies of previous anecdotes are herein rectified
and the other particulars analogous to those shared by Mr. Knowles are improved by the first-hand account,
what has been printed verbatim from a manuscript and several letters of the Artist’s own handwriting; and as I
have alluded, I have done what I can to preserve the Artist’s intended arrangement of these materials.
Although the present work is undated, based on the author’s apparent ignorance of the conclusion of the
Franco Napoleonic Wars, the Editor has concluded the present manuscript must have been written previous to
the ‘Battle of Nations,’ at Leipzig; 1813.
The inclinations to reserve comment, such as I have felt, will no doubt stress the Public’s approbation; but with
regard to explanations and notes, which I have indicated: [thusly], and in footnote, only what wills to necessity
for the apprehension of the common reader. As Fuseli’s capacity of knowledge so surpasses my own, that by
my ignorance, I could not possibly cite, nor at even a centuries time discover, every authority for which his
opinions have originated; and thus, I have also withheld my own feeble observations what would serve only to
distract. But I flatter myself to have provided translations of the foreign tongue to approach the sentiment of
the Artist, whose capacity for languages was also perfectly superior.
Additionally, throughout the work are candid descriptions of incidents and anecdotes of many Artists and
notable figures who, in small or large part, are known to this country, and whose identities I have chosen not to
conceal so as to assist the reader in forming his own estimations of these persons and what influence they and
Fuseli have expended toward the Progress of the Art. Moreover and perhaps more sedulously, incorporated
here are expressions from the heretofore unpublished letters between Mrs. Mary Wollstonecraft and Fuseli;
whose intimate relationship has been well acknowledged, but out of propriety, has remained largely
unpronounced, as this work will no doubt elucidate.
It is clear to the Editor that the Artist, Fuseli, as will be revealed —has intended a purpose for these, his words,
what his pictures have thusly failed to communicate —the sensitivities of both Artist and Man. I have taken
the liberty to print the constituents of these pages without omission from the original texts; yet I must
acknowledge that by publishing these materials, such as I have done, I most assuredly threaten the reputation
of not only myself, but also others; as the Editor is aware of one or more lives which may be adversely effected,
or at the least, very much harassed by the contents herein. However, I have chosen to proceed with the
present volumes by which I hazard every standing to decency because I believe the revelations of this
manuscript to be of the most vital necessity to bestow a just and lasting legacy for the Artist, Fuseli, and the
posterity to which he has been now twenty years committed.
—I only ask that you judge me not more harshly than the he who I suppose to be for publishing this cruelty
that I now unleash upon the world.*
|A D V E R T I S E M E N T.
|*THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM AN ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT BY THE AUTHOR MICHAEL ALLEN LOWE
COPYRIGHT 2014, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED