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Andrea Soldi, 1703–1771
John Michael Rysbrack Modelling His Terra-Cotta Statue of Hercules
Former Title(s):

John Michael Rysbrack

The Sculptor John Michael Rysbrack with his Terra-Cotta Statue of Hercules [1985, Cormack, YCBA Concise Catalogue]
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
45 3/16 x 35 3/4 inches (114.8 x 90.8 cm)

Signed and dated, lower right: "Aa Soldi Pinx | An 1753" and lower left: "Michael Rysbrack"

Label on verso, center: “Pitt & Scott Ltd. | 20/24 Eden Grove, London, N7 8ED | [handwritten] Mellon | 127”; center right: “L 278730 | [logo] | 38”; lower right: “Owner | Mellon, Mr. Paul | Artist Soldi, Andrea | A Port. of the Sculptor Michael | Title Ryabrack depicted with | the terracotta stat. Of Hercules | National Gallery of Art PM 6706”

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
artist | caliper | costume | Flemish | gesture | man | modeling (forming) | modello | portrait | sculptor | sculpture | statue | terracotta | tool
Associated People:
Rysbrack, (John) Michael (1694–1770), sculptor
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

The Flemish sculptor John Michael Rysbrack achieved great success after moving from Antwerp to London in 1720. He became the leading sculptor of busts and monumental tombs until he experienced competition from Louis François Roubiliac in the 1740s. Rysbrack was also renowned as a skillful modeler, and his terracotta models were highly sought after by eighteenth-century connoisseurs. In this portrait by the Florentine artist Andrea Soldi, Rysbrack is shown at work on the terracotta modello for his marble statue of Hercules. The marble, which Horace Walpole considered his “chef d’oeuvre,” was commissioned by Henry Hoare of Stourhead in Wiltshire and was completed in 1756. A terracotta bust by Rysbrack that relates to the statue of Hercules is shown alongside. The terracotta model represented in the painting was bequeathed to Hoare by Rysbrack in 1770, and it remains at Stourhead to this day.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

The extratriate Flemish sculptor John Michael Rysbrack (1694-1770) had achieved great success in London since his arrival in about 1720. (An exquisite terracotta portrait bust by Rysbrack of his colleague the Flemish topographical painter and draftsman Peter Tillemans, as well as a fine life-size terracotta bust of the Hercules, are displayed on the Long Gallery side of this floor.) Andrea Soldi shows Rysbrack at work on the terracotta modello (1744) for a celebrated statue of Hercules destined for Stourhead Hall, the banker Henry Hoare's splendid Palladian house in Wiltshire. Soldi was a Florentine portrait painter, much favored by other artists, sculptors, architects, and musicians. He represents Rysbrack holding his sculptor's caliper, a measuring device. Soldi's work was increasingly out of fashion in the 1750s and 1760s. A chronic debtor, he died in penury, and his funeral was paid for by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005

Tate Centenary Development (Tate Britain, 2001-09-25 - 2004-04-23) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Rysbrack (Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 1982-03-06 - 1982-05-01) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Andrea Soldi: A Checklist of His Work, Volume of the Walpole Society, Vol. XLVII, 1980, p. 15, fig. 56, N12 W35 A1 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Baker, The marble index : Roubiliac and sculptural portraiture in eighteenth-century Britain, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, 2014, pp. 176, 178, fig. 201, NB466 .B355 2014 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

British Art at Yale, Apollo, v.105, April 1977, pp. 243, 245, fig. 12, N1 .A54 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christie's Sale Catalogue: Catalogue of Important Pictures by Old Masters. 10 April 1970, Christie's, 1970, p. 55, Lot 94, Sales Catalogues (YCBA) [YCBA]

Michel Conan, Landscape design and the experience of motion, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., 2003, SB472.45 L366 2003 (HAAS) [ORBIS]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 210-211, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Katharine Eustace, Michael Rysbrack, sculptor, 1694-1770, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol (Avon), 1982, p. 192, no. 97, fig. 20, NJ18 R973 E87 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Rita Geoke, Studien zum Kèunstlerbildnis des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts in England, Bd. 15, LIT, Mèunster, 2000, pl. 49, N7619.5 E5 G65 2000 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Ingamells, Andrea Soldi, Part II , Connoisseur, V. 186, no. 749, July 1974, pp. 181-2, fig. 14, N1 C75 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Simon Swynfen Jervis, Roman splendour, English arcadia : the English taste for pietre dure and the Sixtus cabinet at Stourhead, Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd, London, 2015, pp. 127, 129, fig. 150, NK2727 .J47 2015 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

John F. Kerslake, Early Georgian portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1977, p. 239 (v. 1), N1090 A591 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Michael Rysrack in His Studio (Art Reproduction), Connoisseur, Vol. 174, August 1970, p. 180, fig. 10, N1 C75 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Paul Mellon's Legacy : a passion for British art [large print labels], , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 3, N5220 M552 P381 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Sotheby's sale catalogue : Catalogue of Important Old Master Paintings : 24 June 1970, Sotheby's, London, June 24, 1970, pp.84-65, Lot 109, Auction Catalogues (YCBA) [YCBA]

The British Augustan Oligarchy in Portraiture, Michael Rysbrack and his Bust of the Earl of Orkney , British Art Journal, vol. 11, no. 2, 2010/11, pp. 42, 45, Pl. 3, N6761 B74 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Angus Trumble, The Finger : A Handbook, , Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2010, p. 82, GT498.F46 T78 2010 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Ellis Waterhouse, An Impressive Panorama of British Portraiture, Apollo, v. 105, no. 182, April 1977, pp. 243, 245, fig. 12, N1 A54 + (YCBA) Another copy of this article may be found in a separately bound and catalogued copy of this issue located on the Mellon Shelf [call number : N5220 M552 A7 1977 + (YCBA)] [YCBA]

Ellis Waterhouse, Dictionary of British 18th Century Painters in Oils and Crayons, Antique Collectors' Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1981, pp. 355-6, ND466 +W38 Oversize (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, N1 +B87 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

David Wilson, A Very Early Portrait by Michael Rysbrack, the Earl of Macclesfield , Georgian Group Journal, v. 17, Georgian Group, 2009, p. 20, Fig. 2, NA966 G46 (YCBA) [YCBA]

David Wilson, Michael Rysback's Antique Head on Modern Shoulders, Georgian Group Journal, vol. 21, Georgian Group, 2013, p. 17-18, fig. 3, NA966 G46 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Yale Center for British Art, Selected paintings, drawings & books, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1977, p. 17, N590.2 A82 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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