Flaxman Terrace, WC1H

Place Name

Renamed in the early 20thCentury after John Flaxman (July 6, 1755 – December 7, 1826), the 18th-19th century sculptor and draughtsman who spent the last years of his life at a house on nearby Fitzroy Square. Born in York to a sculptor father, the family moved to London when Flaxman was only 6 months old. He didn’t really receive a formal education and is thought to have taught himself the skills of his trade through studying his father’s stock-in-trade and classical sculpture. Eventually he picked up commissions from his father’s customers. He became friends with the likes of artists William Blake and Thomas Stothard and entered the Royal Academy in 1770. From 1775 he was employed by the potter Josiah Wedgwood and his partner Bentley, for whom his father had done some work, modelling reliefs for the company’s wares. In 1787, newly-married, he set off for Rome where he produced his first book illustrations which he was to become famous for, and which promoted his influence all over Europe, leading Goethe to describe him as “the idol of all dilettanti”. Later in his career, he made funerary monuments. When it was first laid out, in the early 19thCentury, this street was called Crescent Mews, and it was non-residential. The UCL Bloomsbury Project supposes it was built as a mews for Burton Crescent, which was developed about the same time by prolific Regency/Georgian developer, James Burton. Prior to its development the land was fields which Sir Andrew Judd bequeathed to the Skinners’ Company in the 16thCentury. There is also a Flaxman Court, off Wardour Street, close to the little house Flaxman moved to after he married. He is buried nearby at St Pancras Old Church.

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