Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783)
Messerschmidt learnt the basics of sculpture in Munich from his uncle Baptist Straub, a leading Rococo sculptor. An exceptional talent, he was called to the court of Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna. However, the obstinate artist couldn't handle the conservative art climate. Disillusioned he left for Bratislava where his brother lived. There he accepted a number of commissions, but primarily worked on his series of 55 heads which later became famous. He was generally lauded, but led a very reclusive life and died suddenly aged 47.