Exhibition | Grinling Gibbons

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on September 20, 2021

Grinling Gibbons, Carved Limewood Cravat, ca. 1690
(London: Victoria and Albert Museum, W.181:1-1928)

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Opening this week at Compton Verney:

Grinling Gibbons: Centuries in the Making
Bonhams, London, 3–27 August 2021
Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park, Warwickshire, 25 September 2021 — 30 January 2022

The remarkable life and legacy of Grinling Gibbons (1648–1721) will be celebrated at Compton Verney, as part of a year-long series of events to commemorate the tercentenary of the most renowned British woodcarver of the 17th century, often called the ‘Michelangelo of Wood’. The exhibition Centuries in the Making has been created in partnership with the Grinling Gibbons Society and will reveal the life, genius and legacy of this legendary sculptor and craftsman.

Arguably the greatest carver in British history, Grinling Gibbons remains a potent symbol of inspiration and achievement. He carved with an unsurpassed realism that could literally fool the eye. A fine example is the limewood cravat (ca.1690, V&A), which was once owned by Sir Horace Walpole. Exquisitely carved to imitate Venetian needlepoint lace, it was so realistic it is said that when Walpole wore it to greet visitors at his home at Strawberry Hill House, they believed it was the real thing. Walpole described how, “There is no instance of man before Gibbons who gave to wood the loose and airy lightness of flowers.”

Centuries in the Making will explore the influences that shaped Gibbons’ vision, his skills and techniques, and the stylistic and cultural impact that he had on this country. Through sculpture and carving in wood and stone, drawings and sketches, portraits, still life paintings, and documents, the exhibition brings fresh perspective to Gibbons and shows how his bold new direction changed the landscape of British carving, sculpture, and interiors. The influence of Gibbons will be traced to the present day, with works by contemporary artists and designers including Phoebe Cummings, Rebecca Stevenson, and Alexander McQueen. Also showcased will be the work of the eleven finalists in the Grinling Gibbons Tercentenary Award, which will be displayed throughout the galleries.

Visit grinling-gibbons.org to find out more.

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