blog but he deserves a second, and much longer, look. His self-portrait, right
John Flaxman was born in 1755, some twenty-five years younger than his near contemporary Robert Adam. Like Adam he was steeped from his earliest days in the classical art, architecture and design of the Greeks. The son of a maker of plaster casts, he was a sickly child who spent his youth among his father's stock in trade and studied classical texts in order to understand them.
His artistic talent was developed early with help from patrons who were his father's customers. Renowned painter George Romney was an early admirer, and William Blake became one of his best friends. His early success was rewarded with honours which led him to become something of a 'coxcomb', but he could not earn a living from his work.
He worked for Wedgwood for twelve years, honing his skill at bas-relief. As well, in 1780 he began to use that skill in producing grave monuments. His memorial work became very well-known and eventually his monuments graced churches all over the country, influencing the artistic taste and world view of the late Georgians.
While in Britain he became best known for his sculptural and monumental work, on the continent he was famous for his work in outline design illustrations for classical literature. He was commissioned to do designs for the Iliad and Odyssey, for Dante and Aeschylus, for Hesiod and Pilgrim's Progress. Below top, from the Odyssey, Circe; below bottom, from the Odyssey, Suitors
In later life, John Flaxman exhibited every year at the Royal Academy of which he was an associate; he became a full Academician in 1800. He continued to produce public monuments and memorials for churches. His opinion in favour of the purchase of the Elgin marbles was much respected by the parliamentary commission studying the matter.
'Til next time,