Gibson’s polychrome works

Gibson became famous for his polychrome sculptures. He started tinting his works in the 1840s referring to the tradition of polychrome greek sculpture as described by antique authors and proved by recent excavations in Sicily and Greece. The Tinted Venus in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool is not only the best known, but also one of very few restored polychrome statues of Gibson. There is no tinted statue in London Collections.

However, there is a number of works on the Gibson Trail that relate to his experiments. The plaster model of the famous Tinted Venus is held by the Royal Academy of Arts and displayed on the second floor of the Sackler Wing. The brown colour of the surface differs much from the delicate tinting of the Liverpool marble. The marble version of Tinted Venus was shown at the International Exhbition of 1862 in a temple designed by the architect Owen Jones with two other polychrome works: Pandora and Cupid tormenting the soul. The polychrome statue of Pandora is today at Liverpool, Lady Lever Art Gallery, but a second, uncoloured repetition is displayed in the sculpture gallery of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Moreover, the full length portrait statue of Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace used to be coloured, but the tinting (wax and pigments), faded over the years. And also the group of Queen Victoria with Justice and Clemency in the Palace of Westminster was initially planned as being polychrome.