John Gilbert (painter)

For other people named John Gilbert, see John Gilbert (disambiguation).
Self-portrait, 1872.
Gilbert's Shylock After the Trial, an illustration to The Merchant of Venice.

Sir John Gilbert RA (21 July 1817 – 5 October 1897) was an English artist, illustrator and engraver.


Gilbert was born in Blackheath, Surrey,[1] and taught himself to paint. His only formal instruction was from George Lance.[2] Skilled in several media, Gilbert gained the nickname, "the Scott of painting". He was best known for the illustrations and woodcuts he produced for the Illustrated London News.

Leslie - physics Francis Baily - astronomer Playfair - Uniformitarianism Rutherford - Nitrogen Dollond - Optics Young - modulus etc Brown - Brownian motion Gilbert - Royal Society president Banks - Botanist Kater - measured gravity ?? Howard - Chemical Engineer Dundonald - propellors William Allen - Pharmacist Henry - Gas law Wollaston - Palladium and Rhodium Hatchett - Niobium Davy - Chemist Maudslay - modern lathe Bentham - machinery ? Rumford - thermodynamics Murdock - sun and planet gear Rennie - Docks, canals & bridges Jessop - Canals Mylne - Blackfriars bridge Congreve - rockets Donkin - engineer Henry Fourdrinier - Paper making machine Thomson - atoms William Symington - first steam boat Miller - steam boat Nasmyth - painter and scientist Nasmyth2 Bramah - Hydraulics Trevithick Herschel - Uranus Maskelyne - Astronomer Royal Jenner - Smallpox vaccine Cavendish Dalton - atoms Brunel - Civil Engineer Boulton - Steam Huddart - Rope machine Watt - Steam engine Telford Crompton - spinning machine Tennant - Industrial Chemist Cartwright - Power loom Ronalds - Electric telegraph Stanhope - Inventor Use your cursor to explore (or Click icon to enlarge)
Distinguished Men of Science.[1] Use your cursor to see who is who.[2]
  1. ^ Engraving after 'Men of Science Living in 1807-8', John Gilbert engraved by George Zobel and William Walker, ref. NPG 1075a, National Portrait Gallery, London, accessed February 2010
  2. ^ Smith, HM (May 1941). "Eminent men of science living in 1807-8". J. Chem. Educ. 18 (5): 203. doi:10.1021/ed018p203. 

Gilbert was initially apprenticed to a firm of estate agents, but taught himself art by copying prints. He was unable to enter the Royal Academy Schools, but mastered watercolour, oils, and other media. From 1836 he exhibited at the Society of British Artists, and at the RA from 1838. The art patron Thomas Sheepshanks and the artist William Mulready suggested that he learn wood engraving. Starting with Punch, he moved on to the Illustrated London News. He produced an impressive number of wood engravings for that publication and for The London Journal. He also produced very many illustrations for books, including nearly all the important English poets (including his illustrated Shakespeare with almost 750 drawings[3]). He became president of the Old Watercolour Society in 1871.[3] He exhibited some 400 pictures in watercolour and oil exhibited at the various societies. In 1872 he was knighted.[3] He became an RA in 1876, in the same year as Edward Poynter.

The Gilbert-Garret Competition for Sketching Clubs was started in 1870 at St. Martins School of Art, and named after its first president, John Gilbert.[4]

Gilbert is buried at Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries.

Illustrated books and legacy

Gilbert illustrated:

Gilbert has nearly sixty oil paintings in British national collections.[5]


  1. Union List of Artist Names, retrieved 2008-07-13
  2.  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Gilbert, Sir John". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  3. 1 2 3 Shakespeare Illustrated: The Artists: Sir John Gilbert, retrieved 2008-07-13
  4. Art School Exhibitions
  5. Paintings by John Gilbert at the Art UK site
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