John Gibson was one of the most widely-regarded neoclassical sculptors in Europe. In this statue group he depicts the moment in Greek myth when Hylas, the boy companion of Hercules, was abducted by water-nymphs who were entranced by his beauty. Hylas is simultaneously admired and restrained by the two Naiades. Gibson’s treatment of the scene draws on many classical sources, and the marble is inscribed (in Greek) with the words ‘Beautiful Hylas’. The statue was bought by Robert Vernon, a successful businessman and patron of the arts, and subsequently given to the nation.