Love cherishing the Soul, while preparing to torment it (John Gibson, 1790-1866). Gibson was born near Conwy in Wales and spent most of his life in Rome. In this work he represented Cupid caressing a butterfly (commonly used in Roman sculpture to signify the human soul) while drawing an arrow with his other hand to pierce it. Gibson spent three months on the clay model and executed the first marble version in 1837 and exhibited it in 1839 at the Royal Academy. Two further repetitions were created, of which this is one.
24 November 2013
William Brown Street, Liverpool
SJ 34995 90768; 53.40969°N, 2.97936°W
The Walker Art Gallery is owned by National Museums Liverpool and its Grade II* listed neo-classical building, designed by architects Cornelius Sherlock and Henry Hill Vale, opened in 1877. The basis of its collection was originally formed by that started in 1819 by the Liverpool Royal Institution.
On display in its sculpture gallery are around 120 pieces from the Walker’s permanent collection. The focus there is on 18th to early 20th century European sculpture.
Walker Art Gallery (National Museums Liverpool);
Walker Art Gallery (Wikipedia)
Love cherishing the Soul, while preparing to torment it (John Gibson, 1790-1866).
Highland Mary (Benjamin Edward Spence, 1822-1866). Spence was born in Liverpool and moved to Rome in 1845. The subject of the sculpture is Mary Campbell holding a bible given to her by Robert Burns, who, it is thought, had asked her to marry him. She, however, died soon after, possibly from a fever.
Puck (Harriet Hosmer, 1830-1908). Working in Rome, American sculptress Hosmer was the pupil of John Gibson. She sculpted this figure from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in 1855-56 and subsequently created around 30 marble replicas of the trickster sprite.
The Sleeping Shepherd Boy (John Gibson, 1790-1866). Gibson started work on the first version of this piece in 1818 while working in the studio of Antonio Canova.
Detail of Venus holding the apple of discord – The Tinted Venus (John Gibson, 1790-1866). Gibson worked on this sculpture from 1851 to 1856 and it was shown in 1862 at the London International Exhibition. Gibson’s use of pigments to colour the statue divided opinion, with admirers praising its beauty and detractors bemoaning the vulgarity of its ‘unnecessary realism’.
Time is Precious (Antonio Rossetti, b. 1819). This statue was created in 1873 and exhibited in 1877 at the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition.
Psyche at the Well (Benjamin Edward Spence, 1822-1866). Psyche frequently featured in neo-classical sculpture. This work embodies a scene from the story of ‘Cupid and Psyche’ in which Psyche is given the apparently impossible task of filling a vessel from the inaccessible and guarded river Styx.
Psyche at the Well (Benjamin Edward Spence, 1822-1866).
Flora (John Gibson, 1790-1866). The first commission for this figure of the Roman goddess of Spring was in 1830, and this was followed by two further copies.
Cupid in Disguise (John Gibson, 1790-1866). The first marble version of this depiction of Cupid as a shepherd was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1837. Orders were received for seven repetitions, including one for Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia.
Cupid in Disguise (John Gibson, 1790-1866).
Nymph preparing for the Bath (Richard James Wyatt, 1795-1850). Like Gibson, Wyatt trained in Rome under Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen. This work was first exhibited in 1831 at the Royal Academy and Wyatt later created five marble replicas.
The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Rinaldo Rinaldi, 1793-1873). Italian sculptor Rinaldi trained under Antonio Canova. This piece, dated 1855, refers to Matthew 25:1-13 (take spare oil with you for your lamps, or you will miss the party! )