MESSERSCHMIDT, Franz Xaver
(b. 1736, Wiesensteig, d. 1783, Bratislava)
Character Head: The Lecher1770-83
Marble, height 45 cm
Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna
Franz Xaver Messerschmidt was one of the most progressive and remarkable artists of his time. He sealed his position in art history at a moment of seismic artistic and cultural transition by abandoning his role as a conformist court sculptor and seeking out new artistic possibilities.
Messerschmidt was widely regarded as an unusual personality and lived his final years in solitude. His celebrated series of uncommissioned 'character heads' only reinforced his reputation as an eccentric since they displayed an anthology of bizarre grimaces and sneers. After his death, 69 heads were found in his studio. 43 of the original heads are known today.