John Michael Rysbrack (Antwerp 1694 – London 1770)
Art / Sculpture
circa 1730 - circa 1749
455 x 660 x 362 mm
Place of origin
LondonOrder this image
Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire (Accredited Museum)
On show at
Terracotta on terracotta and wood plinth, Goat, John Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770), c.1730. A terracotta long-haired horned goat, reclining, with head turned to proper right. Mounted on terracotta and wooden plinth.
John Rysbrack's terracotta goat is a model for a marble sculpture made for the architect and great patron of the arts, Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl Burlington (1694-1753). The marble was originally for Burlington’s Palladian mansion Chiswick House but later entered the Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth. A bill dated 24 May 1749 in the Chatsworth archives states that ‘Mr Michael Rysbrack Statuary’ was paid ‘for the figure of a Goat in Portland Stone’ for the sum of £37 16s 6d (John Ferrett’s Account Currant with the Right Honble the Earl of Burlington 1745, f.235). The astrological sign of Capricorn is represented by a horned goat. It was the sign of both Emperor Augustus (63BC-14AD) and Cosimo I de’Medici (1519-74) whom Burlington admired. The terracotta model was purchased some decades later by Sir Edward Littleton, 4th Baronet (c.1727-1812), in 1765. A series of letters relating to its purchase and delivery written by Rysbrack to Littleton were preserved by Spink & Son, who would go on to sell the model to Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966) of Anglesey Abbey. The letter of 19 November 1765 informs Littleton that the model had been dispatched 'by the Lichfield Waggoners Clack and Mallet' and that the price agreed for it was '£14 - 14s.' with transportation fees at '11s.' (Webb 1954, pp.206-7). The goat evidently was damaged in transit, as the next letter from Rysbrack opens: ‘I am heartily sorry that any Misfortune has happened to the Plinth of ye Goat, (because it is one of the best things I ever Modelled) and it was packed up as carefully as Possible, but I am much pleased to hear the Damage is not in any of the tender and Principal Parts of the Goat. I know a Friend of Mine Mr Trubshaw who lives near Your Honour and has worked for me some Years who will mend it in the best Manner, if You please to give my service to him and acquaint him with it.' (ibid.) The matter is close to being resolved by 12 December 1765 as Rysbrack expresses his hope that 'by this time the Surgeon [will] have cured the Skin of the Goat and that it is done to Your satisfaction, and that it will not be perceived When painted, we are surgeons sometimes and heal Legs and Arms as well as they.’(Webb 1954, p.208). Alice Rylance-Watson December 2018
Sold by the sculptor to Sir Edward Littleton (c. 1727-1812), 1765; thence by collateral descent to Lord Hatherton (1791-1863); sold, Spink & Sons Ltd, July 1932; acquired by 1st Lord Fairhaven; bequeathed to the National Trust by Huttleston Rogers Broughton, 1st Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966) with the house and the rest of the contents.
Anglesey Abbey, The Fairhaven Collection (National Trust)
Makers and roles
John Michael Rysbrack (Antwerp 1694 – London 1770), sculptor
Webb 1954: M. I. Webb, Michael Rysbrack, Sculptor, London 1954, pp.206-8 Esdaile 1932 K. Esdaile, The Art of John Michael Rysbrack in Terracotta, Spink and Son, London 1932, p. 207-8 Anglesey Abbey, 2006 [The National Trust] 2002, revised 2006, Illus p.5. Caption to illustration: "Painted plaster of a terracotta goat modelled by J.M.Rysbrack" p.5: "The Living Room Sculpture The painted plaster goat to the right of the fireplace was modelled by John Michael Rysbrack, the finest sculptor in England in the mid-18th century. It was probably cast from his preliminary terracotta model for ;a marble statue made about 1730 for the garden of Lord Burlington's villa at Chiswick. Rysbrack could take up to two years making such a terracotta piece. In 1765 he asked 14 guineas for the goat, 'as a great Many people have seen it and like it very much." Anglesey Abbey, 1990-1992 [The National Trust; Robin Fedden] 1972, revised 1990, reprinted 1992., p.14. Seen in photograph of general view of the Living Room p.15: "Beyond the sofa, on the unusual seventeenty-century cabinet against the wall, which is decorated in pen and ink, is a goat in terracotta by J.M.Rysbrack. he latter arrived in England in 1720 from Anmtwerp and almost at once the observant Vertue noted that 'his models in clay are very excellent and shows him to be a great Master, tho young...' The Anglesey terracotta is a model for a marble made for the Duke of Devonshire c.1730 and now at Chatsworth."