• The essential line: John Flaxman and neoplatonism in early nineteenth-century manufactures

      Webb, Jane; Atzmon, Lesley (Parlor Press, 2011-03-11)
      This essay explores the work of John Flaxman, a British sculptor of the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries, whose work ranged from that of a fine artist to a designer for manufactures. Flaxman was most famous as a sculptor and modeller at the end of his life, but he also worked in two-dimensions, indeed the international recognition he received early on in his career was established by the publication of several editions of illustrations.1 These folios were drawings derived from Classical works, as well as the writings of Dante, and it is his graphic translation of the Homeric poems of the Odyssey and Iliad (1793), that I shall be focussing on here. However, rather than separating Flaxman’s graphic design from both his fine art and industrial sculpture, this essay will explore the relationship between his activities in two- and three-dimensions, and consider how Flaxman’s understanding of both fine art sculpture and modelling within an industrial context, may have been instrumental in the construction, and an audience’s subsequent ‘reading’, of his graphic works.