• England, 1751
  • White marble
  • Inv. 2216


Michael Rysbrack

Bacchus is a sculpture of exceptional aesthetic quality which conveys a sense of expressive monumentality, despite being smaller than life-size.

Michael Rysbrack was extremely prolific throughout the nearly fifty years that he spent working in England for various patrons, notably the banker Henry Hoare II. Bacchus was one of the banker’s many commissions for his villa at Stourhead in Wiltshire, which was completed in 1722 and is now a National Trust property. The sculpture, which was produced for the dining room of the main house, featured a pendant (a very popular custom in the 18th century) in the form of a faun playing the flute, an Italian-made copy of an antique statuette.

Of Dutch origin, Michael Rysbrack, who moved to London from Antwerp in 1720, made an important contribution to the revival of English sculpture in the second half of the 18th century. Inspired by the sculpture of Classical Antiquity, Rysbrack was an exemplary classical sculptor, refining the late-Baroque style in which he had trained in the city of his birth.

Commissioned by Henry Hoare II, 1751; Sir Richard Colt Hoare, 2nd Baronet, 1780; Lord Taunton, 1838; Mary Dorothy and Edward James Stanley, descent of the Counts of Derby, 1869; C. R. Denison, 1883; Edward Arthur Vesey Stanley. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through Duveen at the sale of the Quantock Lodge Estate, Sotheby's, 16 July 1920 (lot 29).

H. 115 cm; W. 36 cm; D. 31 cm

Walpole 1928

Horace Walpole, 'Visits to Country Seats', in Walpole Society, volume 16, 1927–8. Oxford: University Press, 1928. 

Webb 1950

M. I. Webb, 'Sculpture by Rysbrack in Stourhead', The Burlington Magazine, no. 572, vol. XCII, November 1950, pp. 307–15.

Webb 1954

M. I. Webb, Michael Rysbrack Sculptor. London: Country Life Limited, 1954.

Whinney 1964

Margaret Whinney, Sculpture in Britain 1530 to 1830. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1964.

Woodbridge 1965

Kenneth Woodbridge, Henry Hoare’s Paradise, in The Art Bulletin, March 1965, vol. XLVII, no. 1, p. 83–116.

Eustace 1982

Katharine Eustace, Michael Rysbrack Sculptor, 1694–1770. Bristol: City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 1982, p. 180, no. 87.

Figueiredo 1999

Maria Rosa Figueiredo, European Sculpture, vol II. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 1999, pp. 80–3.

Lisbon 2006

Maria Rosa Figueiredo, A Work in Focus. Bacchus, Michael Rysbrack (1693–1770), exhibition brochure. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2006.

Updated on 09 june 2022

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