An outstanding teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Christian Schussele was born in Alsace, France. He is thought to have studied in Paris, where his training as an academic painter also seems to have included some experimentation with lithography. He immigrated to America at mid-century, settling in Philadelphia in the 1850s. There he began to work in chromolithography--mechanical color printing--and soon returned to painting, his primary interest. He achieved some recognition for his highly expressive, although often overly romantic and sentimental, genre and history scenes. His skills at creating well-modeled, solidly constructed forms were widely admired. After 1868, poor health forced him to reduce his activity as a painter and printmaker, but he was able to sustain his teaching at the Pennsylvania Academy, selecting Thomas Eakins as his assistant in 1876. Schussele's academic strengths made him on one of the Academy's most important instructors, and he continued teaching until his death in 1879.
[This is an excerpt from the interactive companion program to the videodisc American Art from the National Gallery of Art. Produced by the Department of Education Resources, this teaching resource is one of the Gallery's free-loan educational programs.]