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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

Gibson's chief excellence lay in basso rilievo


monumental and portrait statues for public places, necessarily represented in postures of dignity and repose, Gibson was very happy. His largest effort of this class--the group of Queen Victoria supported by Justice and Clemency, in the Houses of Parliament--was his finest work in the round. Of noble character also in execution and expression of thought is the statue of Huskisson with the bared arm; and no less, in effect of aristocratic ease and refinement, the seated figure of Dudley North. But great as he was in the round, Gibson's chief excellence lay in basso rilievo, and in this less-disputed sphere he obtained his greatest triumphs. His thorough knowledge of the horse, and his constant study of the Elgin marbles--casts of which are in Rome--resulted in the two matchless bassi rilievi, the size of life, which belong to Lord Fitzwilliam--the "Hours leading the Horses of the Sun," and "Phaethon driving the Chariot of the Sun." Most of his monumental works are also in basso rilievo. Some of these are of a truly refined and pathetic character, such as the monument to the countess of Leicester, that to his friend Mrs Huskisson in Chichester cathedral, and that of the Bonomi children. Passion, either indulged or repressed, was the natural impulse of his art: repressed as in the "Hours leading the Horses of the Sun," and as in the "Hunter and Dog"; indulged as in the meeting of Hero and Leander, a drawing executed before he left England. Gibson was the first to introduce colour
on his statues,--first, as a mere border to the drapery of a portrait statue of the queen, and by degrees extended to the entire flesh, as in his so-called "tinted" Venus, and in the "Cupid tormenting the Soul," in the Holford collection.

Gibson's individuality was too strongly marked to be affected by any outward circumstances. In all worldly affairs and business of daily life he was simple and guileless in the extreme; but he was resolute in matters of principle, determined to walk straight at any cost of personal advantage. Unlike most artists, he was neither nervous nor irritable in temperament. It was said of him that he made the heathen mythology his religion; and indeed in serenity of nature, feeling for the beautiful, and a certain philosophy of mind, he may be accepted as a type of what a pure-minded Greek pagan, in the zenith of Greek art, may have been. Gibson was elected R.A. in 1836, and bequeathed all his property and the contents of his studio to the Royal Academy, where his marbles and casts are open to the public. He died at Rome on the 27th of January 1866.

The letters between Gibson and Mrs Henry Sandbach, granddaughter of Mr Roscoe, and a sketch of his life that lady induced him to write, furnish the chief materials for his biography. See his _Life_, edited by Lady Eastlake. (E. E.)

GIBSON, THOMAS MILNER (1806-1884), English politician, who came of a good Suffolk family, was born in Trinidad, where his father, an officer in the army, was serving. He went to Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 1837 was elected to parliament as Conservative member for Ipswich, but resigned two years later, having adopted Liberal views, and became an ardent supporter of the free-trade movement. As one of Cobden's chief allies, he was elected for Manchester in 1841, and from 1846 to 1848 he was vice-president of the board of trade in Lord John Russell's ministry. Though defeated in Manchester in 1857, he found another seat for Ashton-under-Lyne; and he sat in the cabinets from 1859 to 1866 as president of the board of trade. He was the leading spirit in the movement for the repeal of "taxes on knowledge," and his successful efforts on behalf of journalism and advertising were recognized by a public testimonial in 1862. He retired from political life in 1868, but he and his wife, whose salon was a great Liberal centre, were for many years very influential in society. Milner Gibson was a sportsman and a typical man of the world, who enjoyed life and behaved liberally to those connected with him.

GIBSON, WILLIAM HAMILTON (1850-1896), American illustrator, author and naturalist, was born in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, on the 5th of October 1850. The failure and (in 1868) death of his father, a New York broker, put an end to his studies in the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and made it necessary for him to earn his own living. From the life insurance business, in Brooklyn, he soon turned to the study of natural history and illustration,--he had sketched flowers and insects when he was only eight years old, had long been interested in botany and entomology, and had acquired great skill in making wax flowers,--and his first drawings, of a technical character, were published in 1870. He rapidly became an expert illustrator and a remarkably able wood-engraver, while he also drew on stone with great success. He drew for _The American Agriculturist_, _Hearth and Home_, and Appleton's _American Cyclopaedia_; for _The Youth's Companion_ and _St Nicholas_; and then for various Harper publications, especially _Harper's Monthly Magazine_, where his illustrations first gained popularity. He died of apoplexy, brought on by overwork, on the 16th of July 1896 at Washington, Connecticut, where he had had a summer studio, and where in a great boulder is inset a relief portrait of him by H. K. Bush-Brown. He was an expert photographer, and his drawings had a nearly photographic and almost microscopic accuracy of detail which slightly lessened their artistic value, as a poetic and sometimes humorous quality somewhat detracted from their scientific worth. Gibson was perfectly at home in black-and-white, but rarely (and feebly) used colours. He was a popular writer and lecturer on natural history; in his best-known lecture, on "Cross-Fertilization," he used ingenious charts and models.

Gibson illustrated S. A. Drake's _In the Heart of the White Mountains_, C. D. Warner's _New South_, and E. P. Roe's _Nature's Serial Story_; and his own books, _The Complete American Trapper_ (1876; revised, 1880, as _Camp Life in the Woods); Pastoral Days: or, Memories of a New England Year_ (1880); _Highways and Byways_ (1882); _Happy Hunting Grounds_ (1886); _Strolls by Starlight and Sunshine_ (1891); _Sharp Eyes: a Rambler's Calendar_ (1891); _Our Edible Mushrooms and Toadstools_ (1895); _Eye Spy: Afield with Nature among Flowers and Animate Things_ (1897); and _My Studio Neighbours_ (1898).

See John C. Adams, _William Hamilton Gibson, Artist, Naturalist Author_ (New York, 1901).

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