Grinling Gibbons

1648 – 1721, across the reigns of Charles II, James II & William of Orange.
English parents, brought up in Rotterdam.

The greatest woodcarver, his lime wood carving was so fine that it was said a pot of carved flowers above his house in London would tremble from the motion of passing coaches.
He made decorative Baroque garlands of still-life elements at about life size, made to frame mirrors and decorate the walls of churches and palaces, but he also produced furniture and small relief plaques with figurative scenes. He also worked in stone, mostly for churches.
Horace Walpole later wrote about Gibbons: “There is no instance of a man before Gibbons who gave wood the loose and airy lightness of flowers, and chained together the various productions of the elements with the free disorder natural to each species.”
Gibbons’ work very often includes carvings of peapods. A myth states that he would include a closed pod in his work, only carving it open once he had been paid. If the pea pod was left shut it supposedly showed that he had not been paid for the work.
Gibbons is buried at St Paul’s, Covent Garden.
St Paul’s Cathedral, Blenheim Palace, Petworth House, St James Piccadilly, Hampton Court Palace, V&A Museum.

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