Grinling Gibbons and the Art of Carving

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Overview

In this new study, the work of the greatest of decorative woodcarvers is seen from a new perspective - through the eyes of a fellow carver. Grinling Gibbons 1648-1721 is famous for giving wood "the loose and airy lightness of flowers." His flamboyant cascades of lifelike blossoms, fruits, foliage, birds, and fish dominate English interiors of the late seventeenth century. They are among the glories of Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, and St. Paul's Cathedral, as well as Badminton, Burghley, Petworth, and ...
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Overview

In this new study, the work of the greatest of decorative woodcarvers is seen from a new perspective - through the eyes of a fellow carver. Grinling Gibbons 1648-1721 is famous for giving wood "the loose and airy lightness of flowers." His flamboyant cascades of lifelike blossoms, fruits, foliage, birds, and fish dominate English interiors of the late seventeenth century. They are among the glories of Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, and St. Paul's Cathedral, as well as Badminton, Burghley, Petworth, and other great country houses. After setting Gibbons in historical context, David Esterly's groundbreaking approach allows us to understand what until now has been shrouded in mystery: the process by which these exuberant carvings were created and how their forms reflect the organization of Gibbons' workshop. Esterly, a professional woodcarver who has restored some of Gibbons' most important carvings, shares his unique knowledge of the layering process by which Gibbons built up such masterpieces as the Cosimo panel or the elaborate overmantels at Hampton Court Palace. Specially commissioned photographs show these carvings for the first time in a disassembled state, revealing how they were constructed. Esterly also discusses Gibbons' formidable carving techniques, and his tools, workshop practice, materials, and finishing are described in detail. This generously illustrated volume will have a special appeal for carvers as well as for those interested in seventeenth-century interiors and the decorative arts.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781851773817
  • Publisher: V & A Publications
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author


David Esterly is a professional limewood foliage carver in the Gibbons tradition; he played a key role in the restoration of Hampton Court Palace after the disastrous fire of 1986. He curated the V&A exhibition “Grinling Gibbons and the Art of Carving” (1998) and is the author of The Lost Carving. He lives in upstate New York.
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Table of Contents

Foreword 7
Acknowledgements 8
Introduction 9

PART I ORIGINS 15
1. `In an Obscure Place ... by Meere Accident' 16
2. The Years before Deptford 34
3. A New Discovery, a New Style 52

PART II THE FORMS OF GIBBONS'S CARVING 67
4. The Carved Surround 68
5. The Trophy 130
6. Embellishment 154

PART III GIBBONS'S TECHNIQUES 173
7. Form Follows Workshop 174
8. Making a Gibbons Carving 188
Conclusion 206
Notes 214
Chronology of Grinling Gibbons's Life 218
Select Bibliography 220
Index 221

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