A Fine Neoclassical Marble Portrait Bust
A Fine Neoclassical Marble Portrait Bust
A Fine Neoclassical Marble Portrait Bust
A Fine Neoclassical Marble Portrait Bust
A Fine Neoclassical Marble Portrait Bust

JOHN GIBSON RA (1791-1866)

A Fine Neoclassical Marble Portrait Bust

c. 1830 Italy

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John Gibson R.A. (Conway, 1790 – 1866, Rome). Portrait bust of a Nobleman, presumed to be Lord Frederick John Monson, 5th Baron Monson of Burton, Lincolnshire. Executed in Rome circa 1829. Signed with inscription 'I GIBSON FT ROMAE'. White Marble. Height incl. socle: 72cm / 28 ½ inches

Provenance:
Presumably, the bust of Lord Monson formerly at Gatton Park, Surrey

Related literature:
Hussey, John. 'John Gibson R.A.: The World of the Master Sculptors' (Birkenhead: Countyvise, 2012), p.155
Roscoe, Ingrid. 'A Biographical Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851' (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2009), p.527, no.88

The present signed portrait by Gibson is presumed to be of Frederick John Monson, 5th Baron Monson of Burton, Lincolnshire. It was most likely executed in Rome in 1829, which is when Ingrid Roscoe (op. cit.) cites a reference in Gibson's letters to a bust he made for Lord Monson. In this bust Gibson contrasts the sitter's powerful facial features with the typically British restraint of his calm, Stoic expression. The sharp, curling strands of hair are carved in a manner reminiscent of classical Greek examples (such as Polykleitos' Doryphorus), which had a particularly strong influence on the work of Gibson, who aspired to the ideal of classical Greek form and bodily perfection.

John Gibson was one of the foremost Neoclassical sculptors of the 19th century. He was born near Conway, Wales, and moved to Liverpool when he was nine years old where, after a short spell training as a cabinet-maker, he was apprenticed to the statuary sculptor F. A. Legé. He soon began receiving his own commissions and in 1816 had work accepted by the Royal Academy and in the following year left Liverpool to work in London.

Gibson, however, had set his heart on Italy; in 1817 he arrived in Rome, where he was kindly received by the celebrated sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822), who gave him instruction and the use of his studio. Whilst in Rome he also worked with Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), the other prominent Neoclassical sculptor working there at the time. From Rome he built up an international clientele for his works in marble and his studio was a place of interest for wealthy tourists on the Grand Tour. It was not until 1844 that Gibson returned to England, having been commanded by Queen Victoria to execute her statue. After a second visit to England for another Royal commission in 1850, Gibson continued working in Rome until his death there in 1866.

The likeness of the present bust to Lord Monson has kindly been suggested by one of his descendants.
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