Jacques Laurent Agasse (1767 – 1849)
Swiss landscape painter Jacques Laurent Agasse was born at Geneva (1767). His first instruction in the public art school of that city. Whilst still under twenty he went to Paris, in order that there, in the veterinary school, he might make himself fully acquainted with the anatomy of the horse and other animals. He seems to have subsequently returned to Switzerland.
Nagler says that he was one of the most celebrated animal painters at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. In Johann Georg Meusel’s Neue Miscellaneen he compares Agasse and Wouwermans, wholly in favour of the former.
In that partial article much is said of his extreme devotion to art, of his marvelous knowledge of anatomy, of his special fondness for the English racehorses, and his excellence in depicting them. He appears first in the Academy catalogues in 1801 as the exhibitor of the ‘Portrait of a Horse’, and continued to exhibit more or less until 1845 (contradicting Nagler’s statement that he died “about” 1806).
In the catalogues his name is given as J.L. Agasse or Agassé. The number of times Agassé changed his address confirms Redgrave’s assertion that “he lived poor and died poor”. The writer of the panegyric already quoted says, however, that he did not work for money, but that he was urged forward by the resistless force of natural genius.