One of the most innovative and talented of English Neoclassical sculptors, John Deare lived a short but intense life. A child prodigy, he died at the young age of thirty-eight; according to legend, he slept on a block of marble, hoping to find inspiration in his dreams.
Deare was born into a family of jewelers and early on proved his extraordinary talent at carving. He began an apprenticeship in 1776; the following year, when he entered the Royal Academy schools, he became the youngest artist ever to win the Academy's gold medal. In 1784, he won an Academy stipend to study for three years in Rome. Arriving in 1785, he remained there until his death.
Deare supported himself in Rome with commissions from English patrons visiting Rome on the Grand Tour. Although he executed a number of portrait busts and copies after the antique, the staples of Neoclassical artists, his most distinguished works are a series of reliefs of historical, mythological, and allegorical subjects. These he carved in a typically sensuous style, displaying an extraordinary range of depth and leaving visible tool and drill marks.