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Definition: Flaxman, John from The Columbia Encyclopedia

1755–1826, English sculptor and draftsman. At 20 he went to work for Josiah Wedgwood, designing the cameolike decorations for Wedgwood's pottery. Later, in Rome, he devoted himself to sculpture and produced outline figure drawings from Greek vases as illustrations for works of Homer, Dante, Aeschylus, and Hesiod. These were engraved by his friend William Blake. He is well known for his neoclassical memorial sculpture of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Admiral Earl Howe, and Lord Nelson (all: St. Paul's Cathedral).


Summary Article: Flaxman, John
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English neoclassical sculptor and illustrator. From 1775 he worked for the Wedgwood pottery as a designer, and later became one of Europe's leading exponents of the neoclassical style. His public works include the monuments to Nelson and Joshua Reynolds in St Paul's Cathedral, London; and to Robert Burns in Westminster Abbey. In 1810 he became the first professor of sculpture at the Royal Academy.

The strong influence of Greek vase painting can be clearly seen in the graphic works Flaxman began to publish while studying in Italy, which include illustrations for Homer (published 1793), Aeschylus (1795), and Dante's Divina Commedia (1797). While in Italy, he also carved several statues in marble, including The Fury of Athamas and a Cephalus and Aurora, from the stories in Ovid's Metamorphoses. With Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen, Flaxman was one of the leading neoclassical sculptors.

Flaxman was born in York and studied at the Royal Academy in London. He began working for Wedgwood in 1775 and from 1787 to 1794 directed the Wedgwood studio in Rome, where he was able to study Greek, Roman, and medieval Italian art. Apart from designs for Wedgwood ware, he modelled friezes on classical subjects and produced relief portraits. The most notable of his later works include monuments for Lord Mansfield and Captain Montague in Westminster Abbey, London, and St Michael in Petworth, West Sussex.

His lectures were edited into Brief Memoir (1829).

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