Sculptor. John Gibson was a 19th century Welsh sculptor, who at the age of twenty-seven traveled to Italy to study sculpture. His family had relocated from Wales to Liverpool when he was nine. After being apprenticed for 13 years to a monument mason in Liverpool, he had two works exhibited in the 1816 Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. The next year with monetary funds from his patrons, he left for Italy, where he became a student of ; Antonio Canova, who was considered the greatest exponent of Neoclassic sculpture. He had planned to stay in Italy two years but stayed 49 years. In 1822 he was taught by Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen. Gibson was made a full member of the Royal Academy in 1838 and was known as "Gibson of Rome." In 1844 he returned to England for a visit and was introduced to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He enjoyed their patronage for the rest of his life. He had attempted to revive the ancient Greek practice of tinting marble sculptures to make them appear more life-like. He introduced color on the statue of Queen Victoria, which was created for Liverpool in 1847. He created statues of England's elite: Sir Robert Peel at Westminster Abbey, William Huskisson at St George's Square and Queen Victoria for the Houses of Parliament. Although he did not usually take students, he agreed in 1853 to teach a young American lady, Harriet Hosmer. Shortly, a was deep and lasting friendship developed between him and Hosmer. Hosmer worked diligently, doing engravings, books, casts, and copying the masterpieces of classical sculpture. He wrote letters to Hosmer's father of her progress. In 1859 he gave her money for her own studio. After the American Civil War, Neoclassic statues fell out of favor by the public for realistic statues, but his career had ended. He died in 1866. Most of his well-known pieces are on display in England: in 1816 "Psyche Pushed by the Zephyrs" and in 1838 "Narcissus, which are both archived at the Royal Academy after being on display; in 1827 the "Ila and the Nymphs," which is at the Tate Museum in London; and in 1851 "The Beautiful Venus," which is at the Art Gallery of Manchester. He left the contents of his studio to the Royal Academy. To mark the 150th anniversary of his death, the Royal Academy had his first solo exhibit from September to December of 2016, which had 30 pieces on display.
Bio by: Linda Davis