John Gibson RA

Another unsung hero of the RA’s history is the neoclassical sculptor, John Gibson.   Born near Conway in north Wales, apprenticed to a cabinetmaker in Liverpool, he was encouraged to turn to sculpture by Samuel Franceys and the collector, William Roscoe.   He exhibited at the Liverpool Academy in 1810 and attended its lectures in anatomy.   In 1817, he gravitated to London and to the circle of neoclassicists round Flaxman.   The next step was Rome, where he studied under Canova, helped found the British Academy of Arts in Rome with Charles Eastlake and Joseph Severn, and received innumerable commissions from British aristocrats on the grand tour.   He stayed in Rome for the rest of his life, grew rich and famous, was made a member of eleven academies and left his entire estate to the Royal Academy to allow them to build an extra storey on the top of Burlington House (where the Sackler Gallery now is) to show his work.


Portrait of John Gibson, R.A. ca. 1850. by Sir Edwin Landseer R.A. Ⓒ Royal Academy of Arts


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