Rysbrach, John Michael

, a very eminent sculptor, was born in 1694, at Antwerp. His father was a landscape-painter, and had been in England, but quitted it with Largilliere, and went to Paris, where he married, and returning to Brussels and Antwerp, died in the latter in 1726, at the age of eighty. Michael, his son, arrived here in 1720, and after modelling some small figures in clay, to show his skill, succeeded so well in a bust of the earl of Nottingham, that he began to be employed on large works, particularly monuments, in which his art and industry gave general satisfaction. His models were thoroughly studied, and ably executed; and as a sculptor capable of furnishing statues was now found, our taste in monuments improved, which till Rysbrach’s time had depended more on masonry and marbles than statuary, on which he taught the age to depend for its best ornaments; and although he is too fond of pyramids for back-grounds, his figures are well disposed, simple and great.

Among his works may be enumerated, the monuments of sir Isaac Newton and of the duke of Marlborough at Blenheim, and the equestrian statue in bronze of king William at Bristol, in 1733, for which he received 1800l.; a great many busts, and most of them very like, as of Pope, Gibbs, sir Robert Walpole, the duke and duchess of Argyle, the duchess of Marlborough, lord Bolingbroke, Wootton, Ben Jonson, Butler, Milton, Cromwell, and himself; the statues of George I. and II. at the Royal Exchange; the heads in the hermitage at Richmond, and those of the English worthies at Stowe. | The competition of Scheemaker and Roubiliac hurt the business, if not the reputation of Rysbrach, for some time, and induced him to produce his three statues of Palladio, Liigo Jones, and Fiarningo, and at last his chef d’ceuvre, his Hercules; an exquisite summary of his knowledge, skill, and judgment. This athletic statue, for which he borrowed the head of the Farnesian god, was compiled from various parts and limbs of seven or eight of the strongest and best made men in London, chiefly the bruisers and boxers of the then flourishing amphitheatre for boxing: the sculptor selecting the parts which were the most truly formed in each. The arms were Broughton’s, the breasts a celebrated coachman’s, a bruiser, and the legs were those of Ellis the painter, a great frequenter of that gymnasium. As the games of that Olympic academy frequently terminated at the gallows, it was soon after suppressed by act of parliament; so that in reality Rysbrach’s Hercules is the monument of those gladiators. It was purchased by Mr. Hoare, and is the principal ornament of the noble temple at Stourhead, that beautiful assemblage of art, taste, and landscapes.

Mr. Rysbrach, who had by no means raised a fortune equal to his deserts, before his death made a public sale of his remaining works and models, to which he added a Jarge collection of his own historic drawings, conceived and executed in the true taste of the great Italian masters. Another sale followed his death, which happened Jan. 8, 1770. He had two brothers, Peter Andreas, and G. Rysl>rach, who painted fish, dead fowls, and landscape, with Considerable merit, particularly the elder, who was born it Paris in 1690, and died in England of a consumption in 1743. He must be distinguished from another landscape painter of the seventeenth century of the same name, who was a native of Antwerp. 1


Walpole’s Anecdotes.