John Bacon (sculptor)
John Bacon (November 24, 1740 – August 4, 1799) was a British sculptor.
Born in Southwark, he was the son of a cloth worker from Somerset. At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to a manufacturer of porcelain at Lambeth, where he was at first employed in painting the small ornamental pieces of china, but was promoted to modeller. His observation of the models executed by different sculptors of eminence, which were sent to be fired at an adjoining pottery, determined the direction of his genius; he imitated them with so much success that in 1758 a small figure of Peace sent by him to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts received a prize, and the highest premiums given by that society were adjudged to him nine times between the years 1763 and 1776.
During his apprenticeship he also improved the method of working statues in artificial stone, by 1769 working for the Coade Artificial Stone Manufactory, an art which he afterwards carried to perfection.
Bacon first attempted working in marble in about 1763, and during the course of his early efforts in this art was led to improve the method of transferring the form of the model to the marble (technically "getting out the points") by the invention of a more perfect instrument for the purpose. This instrument possessed many advantages; it was more exact, took a correct measurement in every direction, was contained in a small compass, and could be used on either the model or the marble. In 1769 he was awarded the first gold medal for sculpture given by the Royal Academy, for a bas-relief representing the escape of Aeneas from Troy. In 1770 he exhibited a figure of Mars, which gained him the gold medal of the Society of Arts and his election as A.R.A.
As a consequence of this success he was engaged to execute a bust of King George III, intended for Christ Church, Oxford. He retained the king's favour throughout life, though he was commonly criticised for ignorance of classic style. This charge he refuted with a noble head of Jupiter Tonans, and many of his emblematical figures are in perfect classical taste.
He died on August 4, 1799 and was buried in Whitfield's Tabernacle. His various sculptures, which may be studied in St Paul's Cathedral (London), Christ Church and Pembroke College, Oxford, Bath Abbey and Bristol Cathedral, give ample testimony to Bacon's powers. Perhaps his best works are to be found among the monuments in Westminster Abbey.
After his death, Bacon's practice was carried on by his son John Bacon, Jnr.
- Bust of George III in Christ Church, Oxford (1770)
- Bust of John Guise in Christ Church, Oxford (1770)
- Monument to the Earl of Halifax in Westminster Abbey (1771)
- Monument to Thomas Gray in Westminster Abbey (1771)
- Bust of George III for Windsor Castle (1775)
- Figurative sculpture for the frontage of Guy's Hospital (1776)
- Chimneypiece for the Duke of Richmond at Goodwood House (1777)
- Figurative sculpture for Somerset House (1778)
- Monument to Lord Chatham in Westminster Abbey (1778)
- Bust of Samuel Foote exhibited at Royal Academy (1778)
- Monument to Thomas Guy in Guy's Hospital Chapel (1779)
- Monument to Jacob Harris in Salisbury Cathedral (1780)
- Bust of Sir Francis Dashwood for his mausoleum at West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire (1780)
- Bust of Inigo Jones for the Carpenters Hall, London (1780)
- Monument to Charles Roe in Christ Church, Macclesfield (1781)
- Monument to Lord Tracton in Cork, Eire (1781)
- Statue of Lord Chatham for the Guildhall, London (1782)
- Statue of Henry VI for Eton College sited in the Upper Chapel (1786)
- Memorial to Admiral Samuel Graves in Dunkeswell, Devon (1787)
- Monument to Sir Waldon Hanmar in Simpson, Buckinghamshire (1789)
- An ornate chimney-piece at Fonthill Abbey (1790)
- An ornate chimney-piece for Warren Hastings at Daylesford House (1793)
- Monument to John Milton in St. Giles Cripplegate, London (1793)
- Bust of the Duke of Portland for the mausoleum at Wentworth Woodhouse (1793)
- Bust of John Howard for Shrewsbury Prison (1793)
- Bust of Thomas, Bishop of Rochester in Westminster Abbey (1793)
- Statue of John Howard in St. Paul's Cathedral (1795)
- Monument to Sir George Pocock in Westmister Abbey (1796)
- Statue of Dr. Samuel Johnson in St. Paul's Cathedral (1796)
- Pediment for the offices of the East India Company (1797-9)
- Statue of Sir William Jones in St. Paul's Cathedral (1799)
- Statue of William III in St. James Square, London (1799)
- Monument to Samuel Whitbread (brewer) at Cardington, Bedfordshire (1799)
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bacon, John". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press which in turn cites:
- Richard Cecil, Memoirs of John Bacon, R.A. (London, 1801)
- J. Pratt, ed., R. Cecil's works, vol. i (1811).