A Marble Bust of James Gibbs, (1682 – 1754).
by Michael Rysbrack.
Victoria and Albert Museum.
One of the most important and influential architects of the 18th century.
His 'Book of Architecture' published in 1728 was instrumental in publicising his architectural vision.
Inscribed on the back -
Iac: Gibbs Arch:
Ml: Rysbrack Sculp: 1726.
Gibbs commissioned this bust, and it remained in his ownership until his death, another bust of Gibbs (below), also by Rysbrack, belonging to the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and now shown in the Radcliffe Camera, depicts the sitter in a more classicising mode, without a wig, and bare-chested. Gibbs and Rysbrack lived near one another on the Harley estate north of Oxford Street in London. They collaborated together on a number of projects, notably monuments in Westminster Abbey (designed by Gibbs, and executed by Rysbrack), and garden ornaments and sculpture for the grounds at Stowe House, Buckinghamshire.
Provenance: Presented to the Church of St Martin's in the Field by William Boore an Antique dealer and silver merchant of The Strand in 1885.
Acquired by the V and A Museum in 1989.
George Vertue states that Rysbrack was recommended to Gibbs on first coming to England in October 1720.
Vertue also suggests that the working relationship between Gibbs and Rysbrack was 'not altogether happy' Gibbs employed Rysbrack 'for his own advantage not for encouragement' and speaks of 'extravagant exactions' and goes on to say 'an unreasonable griping usage to a most ingenious artist. (in his way) far more merit than Gibbs ever will be. Mr of'. Obviously Vertue was not a great fan of Mr Gibbs.
Vertue in 1723 refers to three portraits of Gibbs a 'modeld' bust suggesting a terracotta a marble bust and basso relievo with a wig on. The terracotta and basso relievo are missing.
In 1723 Vertue refers to a terracotta bust ' Mr Jacamo or James. Gibbs Architect born at Aberdeen. ano. 1863. his head a Moddeld by Mr Rysbrack extreamly like him a bald head. cut in marble from that another basso relievo. with a wigg on.
Again later in 1723 Vertue writes 'amongst the Ingenious Artists now living I much admire Mr Rysbrack Statuary of Antwerp whose models in Clay are admirable. besides those done for monuments he has made from the life the portraits of several persons extreamly like. that of the Lord Notingham.Sr T.Hewett. Surveyor. Mr Gibbs Architect. he who from time first coming to England almost has much imployed him but always done it for his own advantage not for encouragement that the poor man has opennd his mind to me & told meof his extravagant exactions on his labour that he could not possibly live had not other business come in to help him of more proffit. an instance of this is now in the Monument of Mr Prior which he is now about.
The Busts of Gibbs and Alexander Pope from the Collection of James Gibbs.
There are two 18th and 19th century references to busts of James Gibbs which have been researched thoroughly and in depth by Gordon Balderston viz -
A fine bust of Jac. Gibbs sold by Christie's lot 88, 27 March 1783, first noted by Rupert Gunnis in the first edition of his dictionary of British Sculptors, 1953.
A marble bust of Gibbs was sold at the Sale of Horace Walpole's Collection (from the Star Chamber) lot 99 - 13 May 1842 to Forster.
Forster is almost certainly John Forster (1812 - 76) the biographer of Charles Dickens. Forster bought widely at the Strawberry Hill sale, acting as an agent in many cases.
Gordon Balderston has written at length on Rysbrack and about the busts of James Gibbs and Alexander Pope by Rysbrack in The Georgian Group Journal vol XI - 2001.
In this attempt to give a history of the bewigged bust of James Gibbs (now in the V and A) and of the bust of Alexander Pope by Rysbrack (NPG) I have relied heavily on the fine detective work of Mr Balderston and cannot claim any kudos for this for myself.
Both of these busts had been put up for sale at Messrs Christie and Ansell on Thursday 27 March 1780 and the following day, by the impecunious Sir George and Lady Chalmers, who had been advised to do so by Sir William Chambers (1723 - 96).
Lot 88 was described as 'A fine bust of Jac. Gibbs by Rysbrack', the bust of Pope was the following lot 89 which as a result of a printing error had been added, along with the next three lots to the catalogue by hand.
The Chalmers had inherited the busts from the Scottish, and Catholic painter Cosmo Alexander (1724 - 72), originally from Aberdeen, who in turn had inherited them from James Gibbs. Isabella Chalmers was Cosmo's sister.
Self portrait by Cosmo Alexander (1724 -72).
Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum.
Oil on Canvas 76.3 x 64 cms
Self portrait 1749 by Cosmo Alexander (1724 -72).
Showing an unfinished portrait on his easel of the Old Pretender James III
Oil on canvas 30 x 24 cms.
From the website of Philip Mould Historical Portraits.
see - http://www.historicalportraits.com/Gallery.asp?Page=Item&ItemID=885&Desc=Self-Portrait-%7C-Cosmo-Alexander
Gibbs had died a bachelor on Monday 5th August 1754. He left the bulk of his estate, 7 houses to four of his friends, Cosmo Alexander inherited Gibb's home at 5 Henrietta St. This bequest also included the contents and the busts of Alexander Pope and James Gibbs.
'my leasehold estate in houses being six in the parish of Saint Mary le Bon and one in Argyle ground in the parish of St James Westminster...
Item I give and bequeath to Mr Cosmo Alexander my house I live in with all its furniture as it stands with pictures bustoes etc with its original lease and insurance from fire he paying the ground rent and Kings Taxes'.
Because of his Jacobite sympathies Cosmo Alexander he was declared a wanted man after the battle of Culloden sought refuge abroad and was living in Rome from Easter 1747 until June 1751. He emigrated to America in 1766. His sister Isabella (d. 1716 April 1784) had married in Edinburgh, Sir George Chalmers another Scottish artist, on 4 June 1768. They in turn inherited Gibbs house and contents.
The bust of Gibbs was knocked down at the sale to Horace Walpole for 7 guineas and shortly afterwards it was placed in the Star Chamber at Strawberry Hill where it remained until it was sold in the great Strawberry Hill Sale of 1842, where it was lot 99 described as 'A noble marble bust of Gibbs the architect, finely modelled and beautifully executed, on black marble pedestal, by Rysbrack'. It again fetched 7 guineas and was bought by Forster (unidentified - who also bought many other lots at the sale).
note - probably John Forster (1812 - 76) biographer of Charles Dickens. Forsters Library of over 18,000 books was bequeathed to the National Arts Library.
For a very informative overview of Forsters collecting see - http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/n/national-art-library-forster-collection/
The bust of Gibbs reappeared in 1885 when it was presented to the church of St Martin's in the Field by the silver merchant, jeweller and art dealer William Bloore (d. 1902) of the Strand.
It was sold to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1988.
The bust of Alexander Pope was knocked down in the sale of 28 March 1783 lot 89 to Lord Vere the future 5th Duke of St Albans for £6 16s 6d. Its subsequent owner was the famous advocate William Garrow KC. PC. FRS. (1760 - 1840) - Garrow gave the bust to his friend Edward Lowth Badely (1803 - 68) a barrister and ecclesiastical lawyer who bequeathed to the Athenaeum Club in 1868, where it remained until 1985 when it was consigned to Christie's sale rooms - it was eventually sold by private treaty to The National Portrait Gallery.
Gordon Balderston has also written
William Thomas, Steward of the ‘Marybone’ estate Georgian Group Journal, 2004 - 05.Vol. XIV.
The Genesis of Edward Salter aetatis 6. Georgian Group Journal, 2000, Vol. X.
Giovanni Battista Guelphi: Five busts for Queen Carolines Hermitage in Richmond. Sculpture Journal, Vol 17.1, 2008. page 83.
The list of the works of Michael Rysbrack in Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain.... pub. Yale. 2009.
Al Antica Marble bust of Gibbs in the Radcliffe Camera Oxford
Photograph from Conway Library. The Courtauld Institute of Art.
James Gibbs by Andrea Soldi.
size 111 x 87.5cms.
Nation Gallery of Scotland.
James Gibbs c.1750.
by John Michael Williams.
91.2 x 71.2 cms.
National Portrait Gallery.
The Bodleian Library possesses an almost identical picture signed and dated 1752.  The relationship between this and NPG 504 has yet to be clarified. The book lettered ARCHIT in our picture could be either Gibbs' A Book of Architecture, published 1728, or his Rules for Drawing the Several Parts of Architecture . . ., 1732, and the unlettered volume his drawings for the Radcliffe, published as Bibliotheca Radcliviana, 1747. The type seems to associate Gibbs with the Radcliffe building (1737-49) but it is not known whether it was painted in the early stages of the work or after its completion. The Bodleian version may have been painted as a thank-offering to the university, from whom Gibbs received an honorary MA in 1749.
Kerslake says - bought 1878, Christie's 26 July, 2nd day, lot 274 (an extra lot); purchased as recorded on the stretcher, by Thomas Sharpe Smith, 1830. In 1872 Scharf noted it at a Captain F. Harrison Smith's, Cavendish Road, London, by whom it was offered with other portraits including those of the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Lord Grandison, all 'formerly in Mr Sharpe's collection at Brockley Hill House, Edgware'. NPG 504 is therefore presumably the 'head of Gibbs the architect' seen there, with other portraits, by Lysons who referred to Mr Sharpe, an attorney, as having been secretary to the Duke of Chandos; it was the Duke's seat at Cannons that Gibbs had rebuilt 'at vast Expence'. Though not mentioned in the inventories, the portrait may thus once have belonged to the Duke himself.
Gibbs appears in 'Conversation of Virtuosis' by Gawen Hamilton, 1735.
All info from NPG.
Mezzotint after Hans Hysing, c. 1720.
engraved by Peter Pelham (1697 - 175), who emigrated to America in 1728.
Sold by E. Cooper at The Three Pigeons, Bedford St.
35.6 x 25.3 cms.
He was the stepfather of John Singleton Copley.
From British Museum.
Engraving of James Gibbs after Hogarth by Bernard Baron.
engraved by Baronnby 1747, for Gibbs' Bibliotheca Radcliviana.
Engraving by Alexander Bannerman after Hogarth.
Illustration from Horace Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England.
Engraved profile by Bernard Baron, 1736.
Headpiece from an unidentified publication.
10.1 x 13.0 cms
Engraving from British Museum.
It is tempting to suggest that this is an engraving of the missing basso relieve by Rysbrack described by George Vertue in 1723.
The Busts of Pope by Rysbrack
The Marble bust of Alexander Pope, photographs taken at the Exhibition at Waddesden Manor, Buckinghamshire 18th June - 26 October 2014.
My advice is not to be tempted to buy the short catalogue, it is overpriced and appears hurriedly produced and is very thin on information. This blog covers the subject of the Roubiliac Pope busts in depth and is free.
The following text is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977.
' Another artist whose portrait pleases posterity perhaps more than it did the sitter, is Michael Rysbrack. A fine though somewhat aloof marble given by Sir William Garrow (1760-1840) to his executor E.L. Badeley (d.1868), who presented it to the Athenaeum is incised ALEX: POPE Poeta / M- -R-S- / 1730.  [Editor's note, 2014: now National Portrait Gallery.] No sittings are recorded but an undated letter, apparently written in the summer of 1725, in which directions to the sculptor's house are given by James Gibbs, Lord Oxford's architect, suggest that Pope may well have visited him. Although Rysbrack would presumably have made a model, no clay, terracotta or plaster of this date is now known. The terracotta acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum from Spinks in 1932 is posthumous. Completed by January 1761, it is one of a number of pieces discussed in letters from the sculptor to his patron Sir Edward Littleton of Teddesley Hall, Penkridge, Stafford.  Some form of the bust must, however, have existed by 29 March 1729 when The Weekly Journal or the British Gazetteer tartly versified: 'REISBRANK, no longer let thy Art be shown / in forming Monsters from the Parian Stone . . .' and in November complaint was made that certain 'Gentlemen of the Dunciad' have gone so far as to 'libel an eminent sculptor for making our author's Busto in marble, at the request of Mr. Gibbs the Architect'.
A verse generally accepted as Pope's, sent by him to Lord Oxford, proclaimed: ‘ ‘Tis granted Sir: the Busto's a damn'd head / Pope is a little Elf / All he can say for't, is, He neither made / the Busto, nor himself'.  In 1732 George Vertue included 'Mr Alex Pope a Marble' in the list of thirty-nine items 'Modelld from the life many Nobleman Ladies & Learned men and others'.
In 1734 a Mr Gerard wrote, 'Pope ordered several Pictures and Busts of Himself, in which he would have been represented as a comely Person; but Mr. Rysbrack scorning to prostitute his Art, made a Bust so like him, that Pope returned it without paying for it'.
He quotes liberally from Wimsatt - The Portraits of Alexander Pope pub.Yale. 1965.
Given the lack of good photographs of the marble bust of Pope at the NPG
I am including photographs of the marble bust carved by Messrs Plowden and Smith to replace the bust sold by the Athenaeum Club.
Terracotta Bust of Alexander Pope in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
This is one of eight busts of British worthies made by Rysbrack for Sir Edward Littleton, 4th Baronet (d.1812) for his new house, Teddesley Hall near Stafford (built c 1754, now demolished), when he was furnishing it.. They essentially comprised four pairs: Raleigh and Bacon, Shakespeare and Pope, Cromwell and Milton, and Newton and Locke.
Teddesley was inherited by his great nephew Edward Walhouse, who changed his name to Littleton in order to inherit the estates (but not the baronetcy). He became Baron Hatherton in 1835.
Teddesley like many country houses was requisitioned during the 2nd World War. The fifth Lord Hatherton sold most of the Littleton's remaining estates in the area in 1953, including the Hall. Being no longer required, it was demolished by the new owner in 1954
see Victoria County History - http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/staffs/vol5/pp103-126#s2
Littleton also had other examples in terracotta by Rysbrack of whom he was an important patron. Most were dispersed through Spink's, London, in 1932 by his descendant Lord Hatherton, when Sir James Caird purchased the busts of Bacon, Raleigh and Cromwell for the National Maritime Museum. Bacon was a politician, Lord Chancellor of England and an important scientific philosopher. His writings underpin the experimental empiricism by which navigation, astronomy and many other fields advanced in Britain from the late 17th century. The National Maritime Museum owns three busts out of a set of seven by Rysbrack.
Terracotta bust of Sir Walter Raleigh by Michael Rysbrack c. 1758 ex Teddesley Hall.
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
Terracotta Bust of Oliver Cromwell by Michael Rysbrack c. 1758. ex Teddesley Hall.
National Maritime Museum Greenwich.
Terracotta bust of Sir Francis Bacon by Michael Rysbrack c. 1758. ex Teddesley Hall.
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.