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John Michael Rysbrack, 1694–1770


between 1745 and 1752
Materials & Techniques:
Overall: 22 1/2 x 21 1/2 x 9 inches (57.2 x 54.6 x 22.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
beard | man | portrait
Associated People:
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

In the early 1740s, John Michael Rysbrack faced growing competition from other expatriate sculptors such as Peter Scheemakers and Louis François Roubiliac. According to the artist and antiquarian George Vertue, by 1744, Rysbrack found “himself somewhat at leisure, business not being so brisk as had been with him some years before. He therefore set himself about a Model of Hercules.” (A painting of Rysbrack working on the model is shown nearby). The experiment proved successful. In 1747, Henry Hoare, a wealthy landowner and banker, commissioned a six-foot marble version of Rysbrack’s Hercules for the new Pantheon he had erected in his garden at Stourhead, Wiltshire. The marble was completed in 1756, and this bust is a model for the statue’s head and shoulders.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

The expatriate Flemish sculptor John Michael Rysbrack achieved great success in London from the 1720s onward. (An exquisite terracotta portrait bust by Rysbrack of his colleague, the Flemish topographical painter and draftsman Peter Tillemans, is displayed nearby.) The final marble statue to which this terracotta bust of Hercules relates was destined for Stourhead Hall, the splendid Palladian house in Wiltshire that belonged to the banking heir and extravagant patron of art Henry Hoare (1705-1785). The original terracotta modello (1744) for the final statue appears in a portrait of Rysbrack by the Florentine painter Andrea Soldi. (That painting hangs with other portraits of painters and sculptors on the Chapel Street side of this floor.)

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005

Art in Focus : William III (Yale Center for British Art, 2011-04-08 - 2011-07-31) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Taste & Beauty in Three Dimensions: Paul Mellon and British Sculpture (Yale Center for British Art, 2002-10-23 - 2004-02-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Brian Allen, Joseph Wilton, Francis Hayman and the Chimney-Pieces from Northumberland House, Burlington Magazine, vol. 125, The Burlington Magazine Publications Ltd., April 1983, p. 195, N1B87125:1 Also available online at JSTOR. Stable URL : http://www.jstor.org/stable/881097 [ORBIS]

Katharine Eustace, Michael Rysbrack, sculptor, 1694-1770, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol (Avon), 1982, pp. 160, 162, fig. 48, NJ18 R973 E87 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Taste & beauty in three dimensions : Paul Mellon and British sculpture, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn., 2002, p. [4], no. 7, V 1426 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Ellis Waterhouse, Sculpture from the Paul Mellon Collection at the British Art Center at Yale, Burlington Magazine, vol. 119, May 1977, p. 351, fig. 53, N1 +B87 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

William III, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2011, p. 22, V2340 [ORBIS]

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