About this artwork
Born into a family of artists in Zurich, Henry Fuseli lived in Italy from 1770 to 1778. He probably painted this head, as well as the one executed with equally loose brushwork on the reverse of the canvas, as a study for his own use. Both images were also engraved as illustrations for Johann Caspar Lavater’s influential book on physiognomy (the science of facial structure). According to the text, the heads were inspired by damned souls in Dante Alighieri’s epic poem Inferno. Throughout his career, Fuseli favored heroic subjects taken from the work of Dante, John Milton, and William Shakespeare, and he drew formal inspiration from Michelangelo, whom he equated with his literary heroes.
- Henry Fuseli
- Head of a Damned Soul from Dante's "Inferno," (verso)
- Oil on canvas
- Heinrich Fuessly / 1741-1825 (verso, lower left)
- edges irregular, appro×. 40.6 × 29.8 cm (16 × 11 3/4 in.)
- The Leonora Hall Gurley Memorial Collection