Goddess sculpture goes to Cardiff

TWO months after the Getty Museum in California announced its pounds 7.6m purchase of Canova's The Three Graces, and awaits news over its export licence application, the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff has bought the next best thing for the nation.

It has acquired a sculpture by John Gibson, one of Canova's pupils, for an undisclosed sum.

The statue of Aurora, in which the winged goddess is caught emerging from the ocean, was acquired by a private treaty sale negotiated through Christie's.

In his day, Gibson (1790-1866) enjoyed a reputation almost on a par with Canova - though there are numerous stories of his low intellect. One contemporary described him as a 'god in the studio, but God help him out of it'.

Queen Victoria, the King of Bavaria and the Duke of Devonshire were among his patrons. In 1816, he was accepted at the Royal Academy in London, where he met the founder of Christie's, James Christie, who introduced him to another important patron.

The purchase was made possible with grants from the National Art Collections Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund.