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Bust  - John Watson Walter Taylor

John Watson Walter Taylor

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1816 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Gibson, John (R.A.), born 1790 - died 1866 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This bust is a representation of John Walter Watson Taylor (dates unknown) as a boy, made by John Gibson in 1816. Gibson recorded that he was introduced by Mr Christie to Mr Watson Taylor, initially executing a bust of him and later his wife, his first commission after leaving Liverpool: 'Then I had commissions from them for all the children in turn, ending with the baby- a little thing with no shape at all.'

This bust and those of four other Watson Taylor children formed part of the Watson Taylor Collection, Erlestoke Park, Devizes, Wilts.

Gibson (1790-1866) was apprenticed to Messrs Franceys, the Liverpool firm of statuaries and later removed to Rome where he received instruction from Canova and Thorwaldsen. Elected A.R.A in 1833 and RA in 1838. He became the leading English sculptor of his generation working in the neo-classical style and was famous for such works as the Tinted Venus, Pandora, Mars and Cupid and Psyche and Zephers. He also executed public statues and busts. He bequeathed his property on his death to the Royal Academy. Gibson spent most of his career in Rome.

Physical description

The undraped bust on a turned stand represents a small boy, perhaps three or four years old. Inscribed on the back.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1816 (made)


Gibson, John (R.A.), born 1790 - died 1866 (maker)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

on the back


Height: 39 cm, Weight: 10.6 kg

Object history note

This bust, together with those of four additional Watson Taylor children and the father and mother was sold from the Watson Taylor collection at Erlestoke Park, near Devizes, Wilts, by Mr George Robins on July 9th to August 1st, 1832 , page 168, Lot. 182. All the busts are described as by Gibson, except that of Emilius, dated 1824, which was by Edward Hodges Baily. Bought by the Museum for £350 from L. Lipman, Esq., 30 Robin Hood Road, Brentwood, Essex.

Historical context note

In 1817 Gibson exhibited at the Royal Academy busts of Master S.W.Taylor and Master J.W.W.Taylor. A bust of Mrs Watson Taylor was exhibited in 1819. According to his own account, Gibson was commissioned in 1817 to portray all the Watson Taylor children, after having first sculpted the father and mother. However in view of the date on the bust, the year 1817 mentioned by Gibson must be a mistake. The Watson Taylor busts were executed on the occasion of Gibson's first visit to London from Liverpool and before he had travelled to Rome.

Descriptive line

Bust, marble, of John Walter Watson Taylor, By John Gibson, England, 1816

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

Lady Eastlake, Life of John Gibson RA Sculptor, London, 1870, p. 41 (187. G.18)
Matthews, T, The Biography of John Gibson, RA, Sculptor Rome , London 1911, p. 34 and 35
Stevens, T, 'Sculptors working in Liverpool in the Early Nineteenth Century', Patronage and Practice: Sculpture on Merseyside (ed. P. Curtis), Liverpool, 1989, p. 46 and fig. 8
Bilbey, Diane with Trusted, Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V& A Publications, 2002, pp. 271-2, cat. no. 414
Brumbaugh, Thomas B, 'John Gibson in Rome: An unpublished letter' in Connoisseur, June 1973, pp. 122-127, fig. 2



Subjects depicted



Sculpture; Portraits; Children & Childhood


Sculpture Collection

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