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Model - John Locke

John Locke

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1755 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rysbrack, John Michael (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 22, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries, case 1

This is a model for a posthumous marble statue of the philosopher John Locke (1632–1704). The finished version was placed in the library of Christ Church college, Oxford, where Locke had been educated. Although Rysbrack never went to Italy, the pose is inspired by Italian sculpture and painting of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Rysbrack was born in Antwerp, and trained in the Netherlands, but spent his working life in Britain. He was one of the most important sculptors active in this country in the first half of the 18th century, and specialised in portrait busts and funerary monuments. Even though he never visited Italy, many of his works are clearly indebted to classical archetypes. His terracotta models are particularly fine, and are often virtually finished pieces in their own right. This piece may have been sold at the sculptor’s retirement sale, which took place at Langford & Son, in Covent Garden, in January 1766. Related drawings are held in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Physical description

John Locke is represented standing, wearing a flowing robe and sandals. With his left hand he supports a book that rests on his right thigh. With his right hand he holds his robe. Signed..

Place of Origin

England (made)


1755 (made)


Rysbrack, John Michael (artist)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 58.4 cm, Width: 21.59 cm

Object history note

Possibly lot 56 in the second day's sale held on Rysbrack's retirement by Langford & Son, at their House in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden, London, 25 January 1766, under 'Models in Terra Cotta...A figure of Mr. Locke, for Oxford'. Included in the sale of Henry Farrer F.S.A. held at Christie, Manson & Woods, 8 King Street, London, 12 to 18 June 1866. Sold on the second day, 13 June 1866, lot 220, described as 'Statuette of Locke, holding a book', purchased by Mr A. Myers for 10s. Purchased by the Museum from Mr Myers in 1867 for £4 4s. Myers purchased the terracotta model of Shakespeare by Roubiliac from the same sale, which was also acquired by the Museum (V&A Mus. No. 32-1867).

Descriptive line

Model, terracotta, statuette of John Locke, by John Michael Rysbrack, English, 1755

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bilbey, Diane and Trusted, Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470 to 2000: A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2002, pp. 139-140, cat. no. 192
Stewart, J. Douglas. New Light on Michael Rysbrack. Burlington Magainze, CXX. 1978, fig. 19, p. 219
Whinney, M. Sculpture in Britain 1530 to 1830, 2nd ed. London, 1988, pp. 229-230
Webb. M. Michael Rysbrack Sculptor London, 1954, p. 169
Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1867. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 27






Sculpture Collection

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