This is one of the typical monochrome compositions of the painter Johann Heinrich Fussli or Fuseli. Specifically, we are dealing with a work of an eminent romantic nature and which is titled with the grandiose title of The artist overwhelmed by the greatness of the classical ruins.
The artist overwhelmed by the grandeur of the classical ruins of Fussli
An image that is currently kept in the Kunsthaus in the Swiss city of Zurich, his birthplace in 1741, although much of his artistic career he made it in Great Britain, in fact he even died in London in 1825.
An artistic career in which he engaged not only in painting and drawing, but also in numerous writings and practiced as an art historian. Both his literary ability and his interest in art history are evident throughout his career. Without going any further, in this image made between 1778 and 1780, his reverence forclassical artis very clear.
It presents us with an image that is above all very symbolic, since we see the artist completely dwarfed, overwhelmed before some colossal ruins of classical statues of which we only see a foot and a hand. This marked disproportion is justified solely by the symbolic value of the drawing.
Aapproach of disproportions that we also see in another very similar work, but this time with literary inspiration, since it would be Dante and Virgil descending into hell. A very romantic theme, which would also be developed years later by the greatest of the romantic painters, Eugene Delacroix, author of the famous Dante's Barque of 1822, also inspired by the work The Divine Comedy.
The truth is that the vast majority of works by Fussli have a literary inspiration, many of them set in the stories of the quintessential English writer, William Shakespeare, who served him on whose plays some of his most famous creations are based, such as his painting The Trial of Titania.
Dante and Virgil according to Fussli