Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/287

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Gilbert
Gilbert
275

quently added by Alfred Waterhouse, R.A. Among the last works he undertook were Child's Bank, Temple Bar; the church and vicarage at Old Milverton, near Leamington, both in 1878; and in 1883 the bank at Lincoln. After this period Gibson appears to have retired from practice, but in 1890 he received, in recognition of his works as an architect, the gold medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a body to which he had been elected as associate in 1849 and fellow in 1853. He served at various periods on its council, and became a vice-president. Gibson died of pneumonia on 23 Dec. 1892, at his residence, 13 Great Queen Street, Westminster, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery on the 28th.

[Notice by W. H. Brakspear in R. I. B. A. Journal, January 1893, ix. 118; Times, 24, 27, and 28 Dec. 1892.]

P. W.

GILBERT, Sir JOHN (1817–1897), historical painter and draughtsman on wood, was born at Blackheath on 21 July 1817. His father, George Felix Gilbert, who came of a Derbyshire family, had been a captain in the royal East London militia, but had adopted, on that regiment being disbanded, the profession of a land and estate agent. A Blackheath neighbour, the senior partner in the firm of Dickson & Bell, estate agents, found a place for young Gilbert, on leaving school in 1833, in his own office, which was situated in Charlotte Row, a continuation of Walbrook, since demolished, and commanded a view of the side-door of the Mansion House. The lad, who was born to be an artist, not a clerk, spent much of his time in sketching on the office paper the busy life of the great city thoroughfare which he saw from the windows, and especially the displays of civic pomp which were frequently to be seen in the neighbourhood of the Mansion House. He feasted his eyes on gorgeous coaches, liveries, and trappings, and stored his memory with a stock of information which was of the greatest use in his subsequent career. He spent many leisure hours in watching military displays on Woolwich Common, where he sketched the manœuvres of the royal horse artillery and other troops, and made accurate notes of their uniforms. After two years spent at the city office his parents decided to let him follow his bent, and he devoted himself to learning every variety of technique which was likely to be of use to him : painting in oils, water-colours, and fresco, modelling, carving, drawing on paper, wood, and stone, engraving and etching. In all these arts he was mainly self-taught, for he frequented no school and had no regular instruction except some lessons in the use of colour from George Lance, the painter of fruit.

In 1836 he made his first appearance as an exhibitor with two drawings of historical subjects in Suffolk Street, and in 1837 he sent two oil-paintings, subjects from 'Ivanhoe' and 'Old Mortality,' to the British Institution. He continued for many years to contribute frequently to both these exhibitions. Some of the more important of his pictures in oils (forty in all), exhibited at the British Institution, were 'Brunetta and Phillis' (1844), 'King Henry VIII' (1845), 'The Disgrace of Wolsey' (1849), 'The Charge of Prince Rupert's Cavalry' (1852), and several subjects from 'Don Quixote' (1842, 1854, 1867). A portrait exhibited in 1838 was his first contribution to the Royal Academy. This was followed by 'Holbein painting the Portrait of Anne Boleyn,' two subjects from 'Don Quixote' (1842, 1844), 'Charlemagne inspecting the Schools' (1846), 'Touchstone and the Shepherd' (1850), and 'The Destruction of Job's Flock' (1851). After 1851 he exhibited no more pictures at the Royal Academy till 1867.

In spite of all his industry with the brush, Gilbert's chief employment during these years had been in black-and-white work for book illustration and pictorial journalism. When he was about twenty some of his pen-and-ink drawings had come into the hands of the well-known collector, John Sheepshanks, who showed them to Mulready. The latter discerned Gilbert's great aptitude for illustration, and advised him to seek employment in drawing on wood. He began in 1838 by illustrating a book of nursery rhymes, and soon devoted most of his time to this branch of art. He illustrated the works of most of the English poets; for instance, Cowper (1841); Pope, Goldsmith, Burns, and others included in Routledge's 'British Poets' (1853, &c.); 'Evangeline' (1856), Longfellow's 'Poems' (1858, &c.), Scott (1857), Wordsworth (1869), Milton (1864), and many others. Among religious compositions may be mentioned his fifty illustrations to the Book of Job (1857), 'The Proverbs of Solomon illustrated by Historical Parallels' (1858), 'The Pilgrim's Progress (1860), and Fox's 'Book of Martyrs' (1865). He also illustrated many novels and tales for boys by Ainsworth, Marryat, Kingston, and other writers; a variety of miscellaneous books for children, and numerous books of ballads and other anthologies. But the most famous of all his illustrations are those which he designed for Howard Staunton's edition of