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John Gibson RA, Grazia: Puella Capuensis
John Gibson RA, Grazia: Puella Capuensis

Grazia: Puella Capuensis, ca. 1843 (Gunnis)

John Gibson RA (1790 - 1866)

RA Collection: Art

This is a model for a marble bust which Gibson made for his patron Lord Kilmorey. The sitter was Grazia a temperamental but popular artists' model from Capua. Gibson described her at length:

‘I believe Wincklemann says that now and then there springs up at Rome a face equal to the antique. We have had such an instance in a girl named “Grazia”... Artists of all nations pronounced her the greatest beauty they had ever seen... It was remarkable to see a living being so identical in feature with the Greek ideal. The tragic grandeur of her countenance was most expressive- every part of the face was Greek – her eyes were large and black- her eyebrows black and strong, and drooping a little where they met, which gave a sternness. Her mouth with the very short upper lip was perfect- the hair grew low upon the forehead, and was in such profusion as to be envied by all the female kind. Grazia treated all the artists with great haughtiness. She had a deficient temper, and it was always difficult to induce her to keep the position required. If a sharp word was said to her she would immediately march off, and leave the poor artist to his own reflections...

Mrs Huskisson was also a great admirer of the Beauty. When she was in Rome there was a German who gave tableaux vivants at the “Teatro Valle;” the most beautiful of the models were selected. Grazia was seen to great advantage costumed as Raphael’s Muse of Poetry, with a lyre in her hand and crowned with laurel. The applause was tremendous, and the “ancoras” repeated again and again. Mrs Huskisson said it was the most beautiful sight she ever saw. When Grazia was about twenty-five, she married a baker, and had a baby, after whose birth she never recovered her strength. The doctors recommended her native air, and she returned to Capua and soon died.’ (Lady Eastlake, 1870, pp.93-97)

Object details

Grazia: Puella Capuensis
John Gibson RA (1790 - 1866)
ca. 1843 (Gunnis)
Object type

610 mm x 410 mm x 290 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Bequeathed by John Gibson RA 1866
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