The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

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.