Tinted Venus

John Gibson, 1851 - 1856

WAG 7808

About this object

Gibson was among the first neo-classical sculptors to paint his sculptures. During the 19th century it became widely known that this had been the practice in ancient Greece. Gibson's intention had been to revive this practice of 'sculptural polychromy'

His aim was not realism, as there is no attempt to simulate flesh colours. The work, however, still aroused a great deal of controversy when it was first shown in 1862. The 'Athenaeum' magazine denounced it as 'a naked impudent English woman', while the 'Sculptor's Journal' thought it 'one of the most beautiful and elaborate figures undertaken in modern times'.

Venus carries the golden apple presented to her by Paris as the symbol of her beauty and power. At her feet is a tortoise upon whose back is the inscription 'Gibson made me in Rome'.

Object specifics

  • Artist(s)
    John Gibson (British: Welsh, born:1790-01-28, died:1866-01-27)
  • Date
    1851 - 1856
  • Materials
    Marble; Wax
  • Measurements
    weight: approx. 270kg height: 176 cm, width of base: 51 cm, depth of base: 44 cm, width at widest point: approx. 65 cm, depth at deepest point: approx. 45 cm.
  • Physical description
    White marble sculpture of a nude woman (Venus) holding a golden apple with drapery covering the left side of her lower body. Her head is tilted slightly to the side and her lips are tinted pink. There is a tortoise slightly hidden beneath the drapery beside her foot.
  • Related people
    John Gibson (Artist/maker)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 7808
  • Credit line
    Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery in 1971
  • Location
    Walker Art Gallery, Sculpture Gallery
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections


Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: ΓIBƩN ETTOIEI EN PΩMH
    Inscription method:
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Tortoise
  • Inscription text: H KAΠH ΠABETΩ
    Inscription method:
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Base
Object view = Fine Art
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