John Michael Rysbrack was born in Antwerp, the son of landscape painter Peeter Rijsbrack. He is thought to have trained under Michiel van der Voort from 1706 to 1712. He later became a member of the Guild of Painters in Antwerp. In 1720, he moved to England. Rysbrack enjoyed a successful career in London as a sculptor of portrait busts, statues and funerary monuments. However, by the 1740s he was losing commissions to rival sculptors Scheemakers and Roubiliac. In 1745, he became a Governor and Guardian of the Foundling Hospital and, in 1769, a founder member of the Royal Academy. However, he suffered increasingly from fluid retention in his later years and retired in 1764, devoting his time to drawing for pleasure. He died six years later.
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