Grinling Gibbons - Encyclopedia

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GRINLING GIBBONS (1648-1721), English wood-carver, was born in 1648, according to some authorities of Dutch parents at Rotterdam, and according to others of English parents at London. By the former he is said to have come to London after the great fire in 1666. He early displayed great cleverness and ingenuity in his art, on the strength of which he was recommended by Evelyn to Charles II., who employed him in the execution both of statuary and of ornamental carving in wood. In the early part of the 18th century he worked for Sir Christopher Wren. In statuary one of his principal works is a life-size bronze statue in the court of Whitehall,: representing James II. in the dress of a Roman emperor, and he also designed the base of the statue of Charles I. at Charing Cross. It is, however, chiefly as a sculptor in wood that he is famous. He was employed to execute the ornamental carving for the chapel at Windsor, the foliage and festoons in the choir of St Paul's, the baptismal fonts in St James's, and an immense quantity of ornamental work at Burleigh, Chatsworth, and other aristocratic mansions. The finest of all his productions in this style is believed to be the ceiling which he devised for a room at Petworth. His subjects are chiefly birds, flowers, foliage, fruit and lace, and many of his works, for delicacy and elaboration of details, and truthfulness of imitation, have never been surpassed. He, however, sometimes wasted his ingenuity on trifling subjects; many of his flowers used to move on their stems like their natural prototypes when shaken by a breeze. In 1714 Gibbons was appointed master carver in wood to George I. He died at London on the 3rd of August 17 21.

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