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John Michael Rysbrack, 1694–1770

Admiral Vernon's Monument in Westminster Abbey

Additional Title(s):

Verso: Admiral Vernon's Monument in Westminster Abby, Rysbrack sculpt

ca. 1763
Materials & Techniques:
Pen and brown ink, black ink, gray wash, brown wash, and graphite on medium, slightly textured, cream laid paper mounted on thick, slightly textured, cream laid paper
Sheet: 11 11/16 x 6 13/16in. (29.7 x 17.3cm), Sheet: 11 1/4 × 6 7/8 inches (28.6 × 17.5 cm), Mount: 16 1/2 × 11 3/4 inches (41.9 × 29.8 cm)

Extensive inscrition in pen and brown ink, center; inscribed on verso in pen and brown ink, lower center: "Admiral Vernon s monument/ in Westminster Abby Rysbrack sculpt./ LSD/ 1.1.0; and in center verso, "X/X"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
architectural subject
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IIIF Manifest:

Michael Rysbrack arrived in London from his native Antwerp in 1720. Almost immediately, he formed a fruitful partnership with the architect James Gibbs (see cat. 111) to sculpt Gibbs's designs for funerary monuments. Rysbrack's association with Gibb's garnered him numerous commissions. He soon began designing and executing garden sculptures, including a life-size marble figure of Palladio for Lord Burlington, portrait busts, and funerary monuments. This monument, completed by Rysbrack and installed in Westminster Abbey, commemorates Admiral Vernon, who served in the West Indies during the reign of George II. Elaborate funerary monuments were the preserve of the wealthy, often regardless of rank or accomplishments, and they earned the stern words of moralists of the age. Joseph Addison saw these monuments as a futile attempt to defy "that great day when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make our Appearance together." The monument for Admiral Vernon takes advantage of Rysbrack's renowned skill and innovation with portrait busts. The winged figure of fame crowns an idealized bust of the admiral in classical dress by the sculptor. Drawing occupied an important p[lace in the working process of the sculptor as well as the painter and architect. Drawings were part of a creative process that also included modeling the work in clay before executing the design in marble. The careful draftsmanship displayed here perhaps indicates that his work was a presentation drawing for the commission.

Morna O'Neill

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 179 cat. no. 152

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 179, no. 152, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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