Bust of a Bearded Old Man
Franz Xaver Messerschmidt was a famous Bavarian born sculptor, who enrolled at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in 1754 and soon received important commissions from the Habsburg ruler empress Maria Theresa and her consort, Francis Stephen of Lorraine. In 1777, he settled in Pressburg (now Bratislava), where he remained until his death. In this beautiful alabaster bust, now shown at the Liebieghaus in Frankfurt, Messerschmidt combined the rich facial expression of an individual portrait with the multi-faceted ambivalence of a mask. Although this bust recalls a portrait of Socrate, Messerschmidt deliberately distanced himself from Baroque portrayal tradition and experimented along a range of diverse creative possibilities in his famous „Charakterköpfe“.