Gibson and Canova

When John Gibson arrived in Rome, Antonio Canova was at the height of his powers. He had, by this time, worked for most of the crowned heads of Europe, from George IV and Napoleon to Francis II of Austria and Pope Pius VII. Gibson frequented Canova’s workshop from October 1817 to October 1822, and these early years in Rome were crucial for the rest of his career. He was introduced not only to his master’s workshop practices but also to important patrons, including Sir George Beaumont and William Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire.

Canova’s studio became a meeting point for young artists from all over Europe and beyond. He fostered a dynamic atmosphere of artistic exchange between himself and the next generation of sculptors, and the effects of this can be seen in the shared techniques and themes explored by Canova, Gibson and other contemporaries. The younger sculptor’s early works provide ample evidence of his close engagement with his master’s output.