Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736 - 1783)

Bust of a Bearded Old Man

Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, Bust of a Bearded Old Man, Bratislava, after 1777
Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, Bust of a Bearded Old Man, Bratislava, after 1777

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Franz Xaver Messerschmidt

1736 - 1783

Messerschmidt carried out his apprenticeship from 1746 to 1752, first with his uncle, the Munich court sculptor Johann Baptist Straub, and then with another relative, Philipp Jakob Straub, in Graz. For part of his time in the workshop of the former, his fellow apprentice was Ignaz Günther. He subsequently studied at the Vienna Academy, and in 1764/65 spent a few months in Rome where he primarily studied ancient works. After his hopes for a professorship of sculpture at the Vienna Academy were dashed, Messerschmidt returned to Wiesensteig, his birthplace, in 1775. An attempt to take up residence in Munich as court sculptor also came to nothing, resulting in his move to Pressburg, where he lived until his death. He primarily executed portraits – of, among others, the imperial family, but also of leading Enlightenment thinkers in Vienna – in addition to the famous so-called character heads.
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