‘Gibson of Rome’

John Gibson RA: A British Sculptor in Rome, Tennant Gallery and Council Room, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1, until 18th December 2016

John Gibson, R.A. (1790-1866) Sleeping Shepherd Boy 1818 Bequeathed by John Gibson, R.A., 1866 Plaster 110.50 x 47.0 x 94.0 cm Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London

John Gibson, R.A. (1790-1866)
Sleeping Shepherd Boy
1818
Bequeathed by John Gibson, R.A., 1866
Plaster
110.50 x 47.0 x 94.0 cm
Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London

It is a hundred and fifty years since the death of John Gibson RA (1790-1866) who was a leading neoclassical sculptor of his time. He was born in the Welsh town of Conwy but when still a child moved with his family to Liverpool. He was enthralled by Ancient Greek and Roman Art from an early age and his artistic talent and enthusiasm was recognised by a group of supporters who raised the wherewithal for him to go on a study trip to Italy in 1817.

John Gibson, R.A. (1790-1866) Cupid pursuing Psyche Before 1843 Bequeathed by John Gibson, R.A., 1866 Marble relief 72.40 x 103.50 x 10.50 cm Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London

John Gibson, R.A. (1790-1866)
Cupid pursuing Psyche
Before 1843
Bequeathed by John Gibson, R.A., 1866
Marble relief
72.40 x 103.50 x 10.50 cm
Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London

In Rome he was able to study under the leading sculptor of the day, Antonio Canova and was urged by him to set up a studio in Rome.  Gibson did so and thanks to a European clientele decided to settle there saying: ‘In England my life would be spent in making busts and statues of great men in coats and neckties; here I am employed upon poetical subjects which demand the exercise of the imagination, and the knowledge of the beautiful.’.  His sculptures were also popular in this country where he was known as ‘Gibson of Rome’ and by 1844 (the year of his first return visit) he counted the Queen and Prince Albert among his patrons. In 1836 he was elected as a Royal Academician.

Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A. (1802-1873) Portrait of John Gibson, R.A. ca.1850 Bequeathed by Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., 1874 92.50 x 72.0 x 2.50 cm Oil on canvas Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London; Photographer: John Hammond

Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A. (1802-1873)
Portrait of John Gibson, R.A.
ca.1850
Bequeathed by Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., 1874
92.50 x 72.0 x 2.50 cm
Oil on canvas
Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London; Photographer: John Hammond

He had bequeathed his artworks to the Royal Academy on his death in 1866 and works on show in this exhibition and others on display at Bodelwyddan Castle, Denbighshire, Wales are part of this significant bequest.

John Gibson, R.A. (1790-1866) Monument to Lady Leicester: Angel carrying infant and leading mother to heaven ca.1844 Bequeathed by John Gibson, R.A., 1866 Plaster cast 181.0 x 126.50 x 18.0 cm Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London

John Gibson, R.A. (1790-1866)
Monument to Lady Leicester: Angel carrying infant and leading mother to heaven
ca.1844
Bequeathed by John Gibson, R.A., 1866
Plaster cast
181.0 x 126.50 x 18.0 cm
Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London

This exhibition is complemented by a virtual exhibition ‘The Gibson Trail’ which has images and information on over one hundred and fifty objects in the collections of the Royal Academy, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Britain, the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, the National Portrait Gallery and Buckingham Palace. The website www.gibson-trail.uk includes an interactive map showing the locations of Gibson’s works in the capital.

The Tennant Gallery and Council Room Dates and Opening Hours Exhibition open to the public: 8 September – 18 December 2016 Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm Saturday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm Closed Monday

 www.royalacademy.org.uk

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