John Gibson, designer: sculpture and reproductive media in the nineteenth century

Journal of Art Historiography. 2015;13:13-RCF1


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Journal Title: Journal of Art Historiography

ISSN: 2042-4752 (Online)

Publisher: Department of Art History, University of Birmingham

LCC Subject Category: Fine Arts: Arts in general | Geography. Anthropology. Recreation: Anthropology

Country of publisher: United Kingdom

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF



Roberto C. Ferrari (Columbia)


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Time From Submission to Publication: 30 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

John Gibson (1790-1866) was one of the most significant British sculptors of the nineteenth century. Although he is best known today for the Tinted Venus, this article shifts attention away from his interest in polychrome sculpture to explore instead his studio practice, his interest in disegno, and his active participation in reproduction so as to disseminate his designs in various media. This article discusses one of his most popular sculptures, Cupid Disguised as a Shepherd Boy, commissioned in marble nine times, and then considers at length the dissemination of his designs as Parian statuettes, cameos, and prints. By shifting his self-identity from a ‘sculptor’ to a ‘designer’, around the time of the Great Exhibition of 1851, Gibson reengaged with his lifelong interest in disegno—the academic principles of ‘idea’ and draftsmanship—and disseminated his work using some of the latest reproductive technologies of his day.