Back in February 2013 I had written up MWA XII: Gibson's Cupid. Since then, I have made more discoveries about his sculpture Cupid Disguised as a Shepherd Boy, and these are included in the article as a compendium. This statue was commissioned in marble at least 9 times, making it one of the most popular (quantitatively) of all nineteenth-century sculptures. The image you see above, however, is but one example of a work designed by Gibson but made by someone else, in this case the cameo maker Tommaso Saulini. This shell cameo was produced after 1850 and depicts Gibson's design of Phaeton Driving the Horses of the Sun, the original drawing for which is in the Royal Collection, signed and dated 1850. He also made a marble relief sculpture with the same design for Earl Fitzwilliam, and an engraving was made of this design in 1851. A copy of this cameo was exhibited in London at Saulini's booth at the International Exhibition of 1862, for which the cameo maker won a medal. The subject tells the story of Phaeton, the son of Apollo, the sun god, who asked permission to guide the chariot of the sun across the heavens. Apollo feared for the boy's safety and begged him not to do this, but Phaeton insisted. He did his best to control the horses, but inevitably the boy was unable to handle the reins, and he plummeted from the heavens to his death on earth. For the ancient Greeks this myth taught a lesson about obedience and hubris. For Gibson, the story provided him with an opportunity to depict a dynamic scene and spread the idealism of Greek art to his contemporaries, not through a large sculpture but through a work of art that would have been worn by women in their diadems or comb mounts.
(Image: Phaeton Driving the Horses of the Sun, carved by Tommaso Saulini after design by John Gibson, after 1850, shell cameo, approx. 2 x 4 in., London: British Museum)