Gibson, Richard

, commonly called the Dwarf, was a painter of some eminence in the time of sir Peter Lely, | to whose manner he devoted himself, and whose picture’s he copied very faithfully. He was originally servant to a lady at Mortlake, who, observing that his genius led him to painting, put him to De Cleyn, to be instructed in the? rudiments of that art. De Cleyn was master of the tapestry-works at Mortlake, and famous for the cuts which he designed for some of Ogilby’s works, and for Sandys’s translation of Ovid. Gibson’s paintings in water-colours were well esteemed; but the copies he made of Lely’s portraits gained him the greatest reputation. He was greatly in favour with Charles I. to whom he was page of the back -stairs; and he also drew Oliver Cromwell several times. He had the honour to instruct in drawing queen Mary and queen Anne, when they were princesses, and he went to Holland to wait on the former for that purpose. He married one Mrs. Anne Shepherd, whb was also a dwarf. Charles I. was pleased, out of curiosity or pleasantry, to honour their marriage with his presence, and to give away the bride. Waller wrote a poem on this occasion, “of the marriage of the dwarfs.” Fenton, in his notes on it, tells us, that he had seen this couple painted by sir Peter Lely; and that they appeared to have been of an equal stature, each of them measuring three feet ten inches. They had, however, nine children, five of which attained to maturity, and were proportioned to the usual standard of mankind. To recompense the shortness of their stature, nature gave this little couple an equivalent in length of days for Gibson died in- Covent-garden, in his 75th year, in 1690; and his wife, surviving him almost 20 years, died in 1709, aged 89. Gibson’s nephew, Wil­Liam, was instructed in the art of painting both by him and sir Peter Lely, and became also eminent. His excellence, like his uncle’s, lay in copying after sir Peter Lely; although he was a good limner, and drew portraits for persons of the first rank. His great industry was much to be commended, not only for purchasing sir Peter Lely’s collection after his death, but likewise for procuring from the continent a great variety of valuable works, which made his collection of prints and drawings equal to that of any person of his time. He died of a lethargy in 1702, aged 58. There was also one Edward Gibson, William’s kinsman, who was instructed by him, and first painted portraits in oil; but afterwards, finding more encouragement in crayons, and his genius lying that way, he | applied himself to them. He was in the way of becoming a master, but died when he was young. 1

1

Walpole’s Anecdotes.