Probably the greatest, and certainly the most famous, woodcarver the UK has ever known is the subject of a 300th-anniversary exhibition open for a few weeks next month.

Hosted at Bonhams on New Bond Street, the exhibition has been organized by the Grinling Gibbons Society and will showcase key works in Gibbons’ uniquely exuberant style.

Gibbons’ Baroque style perfectly lent itself to the opulent reign of Charles II, and he was able to secure prestigious commissions in the capital during a period of extensive rebuilding after the Great Fire of London. The exhibition traces his career’s strategic trajectory from wood carving to stone sculpting, a far more lucrative profession, and which enabled him to extend his business into a thriving workshop.

Font cover by Grinling Gibbons, All Hallows Church.

Work by the artist we now call the “Michelangelo of Wood” is usually only seen in situ in Britain’s royal palaces, its most important churches, including St Paul’s Cathedral and York Minster, and the grandest of stately homes, but next month, examples can be seen together, including items rarely on public display, curated from national, international and private collections.

The exhibition will also look at and how his ambition and business acumen helped catapult him from a lowly start in Rotterdam to attracting royal commissions during the reign of Charles II in England and ultimately reaching the pinnacle role of King’s Carver for William and Mary.

The exhibition, Centuries in the Making will be free to visit at Bonhams on New Bond Street.

It’s open 3rd – 27th August, Mon-Fri 10am-4:30pm. You don’t need to book in advance unless arriving as a group, in which case you need to email them first.

The work of contemporary carvers, including finalists in the Grinling Gibbons Tercentenary Award will be shown alongside the artistry of the man who inspired them.


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