Narcissus by John Gibson

Narcissus

John Gibson, RA 1790-l866

1838

Marble

Sculpture shelf on the Sackler Wing Landing, Royal Academy, London

  • Close-up of face
  • This was Gibson's Diploma Work for the RA. Benedict Read writes: "Gibson's ostensible subservience to the Antique was not as straightforwardly slavish as might at first be thought. Though he granted pre-eminence to the Greeks, Gibson was most emphatic that nature was his true teacher." As for this work, says Read, "not only is it not based on the simple classical story, but it is also not a simple classical form, being taken from an incident observed in nature" (201). Gibson recorded how, on a morning walk on the Monte Pinciano in Rome, he had seen a boy sitting on the edge of a fountain, and had looked keenly at the pose in order to memorise it, before hurrying back to his studio to make a "small sketch" of it in clay (qtd. in Read 201).