An outstanding teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Christian Schussele was born in Alsace, France. Studied under Adolphe Yvon and Paul Delaroche 1842-1848 and then came to the United States. Here, for some time, he worked at chromolithography which he had also pursued in France. While in Paris, he trained as an academic painter, seeming 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. About 1863, he was attacked by palsy in the right hand. In 1865, he went abroad and underwent severe treatment with no apparent benefit. On his return, in 1868, he was elected to fill the chair, then founded, of drawing and painting in the Pennsylvania Academy, which he held until his death. During this period he produced "Queen Esther denouncing Haman", owned by the Academy (1869), and "The Alsatian Fair" (1870). 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.
His best known works are "Clear the Track" (1851); "Franklin before the Lords in Council"(1856); "Men of Progress" (1857), in Cooper Union, New York City; "Zeisberger preaching to the Indians"(1859); "The Iron-Worker and King Solomon" (1860); "Washington at Valley Forge" (1862); and "Home on Furlough" and "McClellan at Antietam" (1863). Most of the paintings that have been named became widely known through large prints by John Sartain and other engravers.