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  John Flaxman  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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John Flaxman
 
 

Self-Portrait
 
 
John Flaxman, (born July 6, 1755, York, Yorkshire, Eng.—died Dec. 7, 1826, London), sculptor, illustrator, and designer, a leading artist of the Neoclassical style in England.

As a youth, Flaxman worked in his father’s plaster-casting studio in London while studying Classical literature, which was to be a continual source of inspiration. In 1770 he entered the Royal Academy schools. After 1775 he began to work for the potter Josiah Wedgwood. The discipline of producing designs, usually based on antique models and executed in wax, which could be translated into the silhouette technique of Wedgwood’s jasperware, strengthened Flaxman’s innate feeling for line. His design of the Apotheosis of Homer (1778) relief was adapted from an ancient Greek vase for use on pots, chimneypieces, and plaques. It has rarely been out of production since it was executed. Flaxman also designed profile portraits in antique style for execution as jasperware medallions. While at the academy he formed a lifelong friendship with William Blake, who stimulated his interest in medieval art.

In 1787 he went to Rome to continue his study of the antique. Intending to stay only two years, he obtained enough commissions to remain until 1794. His artistic creed was formed in these years. He drew assiduously, not only from the antique but also from Italian medieval and Renaissance art, and was determined to give his work a moral purpose. Between 1790 and 1794 he produced ambitious academic groups such as The Fury of Athamas (1790–92) and Cephalus and Aurora, but his book illustrations had far greater importance. His Iliad and Odyssey (1793), Aeschylus (1795), and Dante’s Divine Comedy (1802) soon became widely known and, with their clean linear rhythms, contributed much to the spread of Neoclassicism in England. Later in life he designed a Hesiod, engraved by William Blake in 1817.

On his return to London his designs for a large monument to the earl of Mansfield (Westminster Abbey, 1793–1801) established his reputation as a sculptor on a grand scale. He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1800 and its first professor of sculpture in 1810. He produced a wide range of works after 1800, from small monuments in relief to very large commissions in the round (the Nelson monument in St. Paul’s Cathedral; 1808–18). He also made some designs for silversmiths, the most famous being The Shield of Achilles (1818).

Flaxman’s chief strength lies in the sincerity, humanity, and remarkable fecundity of his designs, which include figures in the Classical manner and in contemporary dress as well as religious subjects. In his own day his reputation as a sculptor rivalled those of his great contemporaries Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 

The Doncaster Cup



Vase





The Fury of Athamas
1790-94
Marble
Ickworth, Suffolk



Bust of Henry Philip Hope


 


Monument to Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson
1808-18
Marble
St. Paul's Cathedral, London



Monument to Admiral Earl Howe






Bust of John Hunter






Bust of Alexander Monro





Monument to Abraham Balme






The Apotheosis of Homer

 
 
 
 

Monument to Agnes Cromwell
1797-1800
Marble
Cathedral, Chichester
 
 
 
 

Portrait of William Blake
 
 
 
 

Inferno
1793
Engraving, 160 x 270 mm
Bibliothиque Nationale, Paris
 
 
 
 

The Fight for the Body of Patroclus
1793
Engraving, 152 x 266 mm
Royal Academy of Arts, London
 
 
 
 
The Odyssey of Homer

1805
 
 

Title Page


 

The Descent of Minerva to Ithaca


 

Phemius Singing to the Suitors


 

Penelope Surprised by the Suitors


 

Telemachus in Seach of his Father


 

Council of Jupiter, Minerva, and Mercury


 

Nestor's Sacrifice


 

Penelope's Dream


 

Mercury's Message to Calypso
 

 

Leucothea Preserving Ulysses


 

Nausicaa Throwing the Ball


 

Ulysses Following the Car of Nausicaa


 

Ulysses on the Hearth Presenting Himself to Alcinous and Arete


 

Ulysses Weeps at the Song of Demodocus


 

Ulysses Giving Wine to Polyphemus


 

The King of the Lestrigens Seizing One of the Companions of Ulysses


 

Ulysses at the Table of Circe


 

Ulysses Terrified by the Ghosts


 

Morning


 

The Sirens


 

Scylla


 

Lampetia Complaining to Apollo


 

Ulysses Asleep Laid on his Own Coast by the Phaeacian Sailors


 

Ulysses Conversing with Eumaeus


 

Apollo and Diana Discharging their Arrows


 

Minerva Restoring Ulysses to his Own Shape


 

Ulysses and his Dog


 

Ulysses Preparing to Fight with Irus


 

Euryclea Discovers Ulysses


 

The Harpies Going to Seize the Daughters of Pandarus


 

Penelope Carrying the Bow of Ulysses to the Suitors


 

Ulysses Killing the Suitors


 

The Meeting of Ulysses and Penelope


 

Mercury Conducting the Souls of the Suitors to the Infernal Regions


 

Ulysses Departing from Lacedaemon for Ithaca, with his Bride Penelope
 
 
 

 
 
 
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