John Bacon was a sculptor active, particularly in London, England, from the mid- to the late-18th century.
He was born in Southwark, London on 24 November 1740 and began his career as an apprentice to the porcelain manufacturer and factory owner, Nicholas Crispe. He often exhibited works at the Society of Arts and many of his pieces won him premiums.
Bacon worked with Crispe from 1755 until 1764, at which point he turned his attention to designing for the ceramic and metal work industry. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1769 and was presented with their first ever gold medal for sculpture that very same year. A year later he was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy.
By 1771 Bacon was living at 17 Newman Street, Marylebone where he formed a prosperous studio and large scale workshop. At this stage he was the chief designer and manager of the Coade Artificial Stone Company.
He married his first wife, Elizabeth Wade (died 1783) in 1773 and his second wife, Martha Holland, in 1783. In 1778 he was elected Royal Academician.
Bacon died at his home on 7 August 1799. He was buried in Whitfield's Chapel, Tottenham Court Road, London and was survived by his second wife and many children.
Bacon's son, John Bacon, the Younger (born 1777, died 1859), inherited his studio and completed his father's outstanding commissions assisted, in part, by his elder brother, Thomas (born 1773).
John Bacon was a member of the Society of Friends and the Eclectic Society.
Cox-Johnson, Ann Loreille, John Bacon, R.A., 1740-99, St. Marylebone Society Publications, 4 (London: St. Marylebone Society Publications Group, 1961)
Gunnis, Rupert, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, New and Revised Edition (London: Murray's Sales and Service Co., 1968), pp. 24-28.
Steggles, Mary Ann, ‘Bacon, John (1740–1799)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008) <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/994> [accessed 14 January 2008]