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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

John Michael Rysbrack (1694-1770), Sculptor

Apart from a drawing attributed to Jonathan Richardson the elder acquired, 1942, by the Victoria and Albert Museum, [1] the oil by Vanderbank was the only portrait known until two versions of a type by Soldi appeared in the salerooms in 1970. Both approximately 45 x 34 ½ in., virtually identical and signed and dated 1753, they show the sculptor at work on the model of his celebrated statue of Hercules [2] at Stourhead. [3] The first, provenance unknown, was lot 94 at Christie's, 10 April 1970; the other was at Sotheby's, 24 June 1970, lot 109, as from the C. Fairfax Murray collection. A self-portrait terracotta bust was executed for the sitter's patron Dr Cox Macro [4] and delivered to his home in Suffolk, 1735. [5]
Rysbrack appears in Hamilton's 'Conversation of Virtuosis' (NPG 1384) and also, apparently, in 'An Assembly of Artists', a work of little iconographic content formerly attributed to Hogarth, now in the Ashmolean Museum. [6]
In addition to the above, Vertue mentions in 1732 a self-portrait bust and in 1752 a portrait by I. Whood finished by Vanhaecken, 'another picture of Mr Michael Rysbrack. sculptor drawn & painted by Mr. Isaac Whood who lately dyd some years before he began that portrait of Mr Rysbrack which was thought more like than that of Vanderbank - as it truely is. therefore it is lately finisht the posture hands &c. by Mr. Van achen ...'. [7]

1) Accessions, V & A, 1942, p 31.
2) Started presumably in 1744 when described by G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, 1930-55, III, pp 121-22 (with sketch).
3) R. Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, 1953, p 334. Connoisseur, vol.186, 1974, pp 181-83.
4) M. I. Webb, Michael Rysbrack Sculptor, 1954, pp 180-81.
5) Ibid, p 224. Country Life, CLIX, 1976, p 1692, pl.1.
6) Exhibited 'Paintings and Sculpture in England 1700-1750', Liverpool, 1958 (22).
7) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, 1930-55, III, pp 57, 162; the 1732 list of Rysbrack's work is retrospective.

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.