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, England
Executed circa 1829
Signed with inscription ‘GIBSON FT ROMAE’
Height: 58cm / 23 inches excl. socle, incl. socle 72cm / 28 ½ inches
John Gibson was one of the foremost Neoclassical sculptors of the 19th century. He was born near Conway, Wales, and moved to Liverpool at a young age 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, moving to London shortly after.
In 1817 Gibson travelled to 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.
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.