Gibson, John

Gibson, John

▪ British sculptor
born June 19, 1790, Gyffin, Caernarvonshire, Wales
died Jan. 27, 1866, Rome, Papal States [Italy]
 British Neoclassical sculptor who tried to revive the ancient Greek practice of tinting marble sculptures.

      In 1804 Gibson was apprenticed to a monument mason in Liverpool, where he remained until 1817. One of his first Royal Academy submissions, Psyche Borne on the Wings of Zephyrus (1816), was praised by John Flaxman (Flaxman, John), who persuaded him to go to Rome in 1817. There he was befriended by Antonio Canova (Canova, Antonio, marchese d'Ischia), and he was also instructed after 1822 by Bertel Thorvaldsen (Thorvaldsen, Bertel).

      Challenging the Neoclassical tenor of the whiteness of antique sculpture, Gibson put into practice new theories about the ancient Greek practice of painting skin colour and facial details onto carved marble figures. He introduced colour onto a statue of Queen Victoria done for Liverpool in 1847, tinting only the diadem, sandals, and robe hem. A repetition of the 1833 Cupid Tormenting the Soul was, however, completely coloured, and the best-known example of this polychromy was the Tinted Venus (1851–55), which caused a sensation when it was exhibited in London in 1862. Gibson was made a full member of the Royal Academy in 1838.

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