Born in Geneva in 1767, Agasse was the son of one of the oligarchic families who governed the republic. He experienced a privileged upbringing spending his childhood summers on their estate in Crevin. While at the estate he developed his love for horses and farm animals and spent his days sketching and drawing. He decided to enroll in the Ecole du Calabri and later studied under David in Paris.
After briefly returning to Geneva, he moved to England in 1802 where he lived until his death in 1849. He is often referred to as the Swiss Stubbs because of his ability to re-create the anatomy of animals. His pictures are sensitive to the subjects and are very naturalistic. His work is regarded among the finest of this period.