Sculpture by John Gibson

Cupid and Butterfly, John Gibson

Cupid and Butterfly, John Gibson

‘There appeared in Rome a boy of twelve years old of the most extraordinary beauty of face and figure, and whilst painters and sculptors were contending for him I also availed myself of so remarkable a model. I considered the idea of a statue of Cupid — this time nude. I represented him caressing a butterfly upon his breast, while with his right hand he is drawing forth an arrow to pierce it. I called it “Love tormenting the Soul.” I spent three months upon the clay model, working almost constantly. I afterwards executed it in marble for Lord Selsey, and repeated it subsequently for Mr. Yates of Liverpool, and for Mr. Holford. I look upon this statue as one of my best works.’

 — Life of John Gibson, Lady Elizabeth Rigby Eastlake, 1870.


29 September 2013

Bodelwyddan Castle, Denbighshire

SH 99937 74871; 53.26136°N, 3.50156°W


John Gibson (1790 – 1866) was a neoclassical sculptor who spent most of his life in Rome. Son of a market gardener, Gibson was born near Conwy in Wales and at age 9 his family settled in Liverpool — but for the intervention of his mother the family would have emigrated from there to America. At age 14 he was apprenticed to a cabinet maker and managed to move into decorative wood carving. He later became dissatisfied with this though and, by going on strike, managed to secure a transfer to a marble works. After completing his apprenticeship there, he moved in 1817 first to London and thence to Rome, where he trained under Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen. Gibson established his own studio in 1821 and became a full member of the Royal Academy in 1838.

John Gibson (Wikipedia)


Bacchus, John Gibson

Bacchus (god of wine), John Gibson

Hebe (goddess of youth), John Gibson

Hebe (goddess of eternal youth and cup bearer to the gods of Mt Olympus), John Gibson

Hebe (goddess of youth), John Gibson

Hebe, John Gibson

Cupid and Butterfly, John Gibson

Cupid and Butterfly, John Gibson

Cupid and Butterfly, John Gibson

Cupid and Butterfly, John Gibson

10 thoughts on “Sculpture by John Gibson

  1. Great photos of some remarkable sculptures. I love the Hebe sculpture. These subjects are so difficult to photograph, I almost always give up defeated by them, but you have crafted some beautiful monochrome images with very fine tonal mapping throughout.

    • Thank you, Iain. I was particularly struck by the light on the statue of Cupid. Unfortunately, neither Hebe nor Bacchus were quite so well located to benefit so well from the ambient window light.

  2. Pingback: Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool | GeoTopoi

  3. Pingback: Vision in Grey | GeoTopoi

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