English painter of Swiss birth. Born into a wealthy and politically influential Huguenot family, Agasse spent his early childhood at the country estate of Crvin, where he may have developed the interest in animals and natural history that was to guide his later career as an artist in England. Agasse trained first at the Ecole du Colibri in Geneva and subsequently in Paris under Jacques-Louis David
(beginning in 1787) and possibly under Horace Vernet. His early artistic output consisted chiefly of unpretentious silhouette cut-outs in the style of Jean-Daniel Huber.
At this time he also undertook a serious study of dissection and veterinary science.
According to a contemporary newspaper, he owed his fortune to an accident. A rich Englishman in Switzerland asked him to paint his favourite dog which had died. The Englishman was so pleased with his work that he took the painter to England with him where he became one of the most celebrated animal painters at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. He continued to exhibit more or less until 1845. He lived poor and died poor.
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