John Bacon, Jun (1777-1859)

The sculptor John Bacon Junior received his initial training under his illustrious father, John Bacon RA, before going to the Royal Academy Schools at the age of 12 years old. By his mid teens, he was exhibiting at the Academy himself. On his father's death, he completed his unfinished works, including the well-known William III in St James Square, London. He worked sometimes with the monumental mason Samuel Manning. Bacon Jun became a prolific and successful sculptor, perhaps too successful, and his later work tended to the formulaic, before he more or less retired in about 1830.

However, at his best, Bacon Jun is very good indeed, and his large output, especially of monuments for churches and cathedrals, means it is easy to become acquainted with his work. His speciality was grieving women and angels, wearing clinging classical drapery over well rounded contours, in that way very reminiscent of the end rather than the beginning of the 19th Century. But the faces of his figures tended to the classical, Junoesque or even matronly rather than youthful, and in the shape around the lower face and chin, make his work recognisably and comfortably fit in their 1800s era. Likewise the poses, which for his tombs often tend to the lounging or casually cross-legged and leaning on elbow rather than something more expressive of heartfelt grief. Nevertheless, his work is always worth a detailed perusal, and in his drapery and his details, Bacon Jun. is hard to match.

As noted, his work is widespread, and many churches and cathedrals hold examples of his monuments. Perhaps the work that springs most immediately to my mind as a good example, though, is that to Lord Henniker in Rochester Cathedral (1806).

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