John Gibson, (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, who persuaded him to go to Rome in 1817. There
he was befriended by Antonio Canova, and he was also instructed after
1822 by Bertel Thorvaldsen.
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.