London – Bonhams is to host the launch of a national exhibition celebrating the life, genius and legacy of the 17th century master wood carver and sculptor, Grinling Gibbons. The exhibition opens on Tuesday 3 August – 300 years to the day after Gibbons’ death. It will be on display at Bonhams 101 New Bond Street until Friday 27 August 10.00am – 4.00pm.
Centuries in the Making has been organized by the Grinling Gibbons Society as part of a year-long festival of nationwide events, Grinling Gibbons 300. The exhibition showcases seminal works distinctive in Gibbons’ uniquely exuberant style. It investigates his personality and how his ambition and business acumen helped catapult him from a lowly start in Rotterdam to attracting royal commissions during the swaggering reign of Charles II in England and ultimately reaching the pinnacle role of King’s Carver for William and Mary. Exhibits demonstrate his profound influence on woodcarving and sculpture across the subsequent three centuries. The work of contemporary carvers, including finalists in the Grinling Gibbons Tercentenary Award will be shown alongside the astonishing artistry of the man who inspired them.
“We felt it was very important, as it is a tercentenary celebration, that we look back at the whole 300 years. This exhibition is about Grinling Gibbons’ legacy right up to the present day. Gibbons was a man who imbibed all the different influences around him and took them forward, brilliantly, in his own style. It’s all about inspiration; where Gibbons got his inspiration from and what he has inspired in others’, explains Grinling Gibbons 300 Director Hannah Phillip, who has curated the exhibition on behalf of the Grinling Gibbons Society. “ We are particularly grateful to Bonhams for agreeing to host free of charge in their central London venue and to make the exhibition accessible to everyone.”
Bonhams Director of Private Clients Robin Hereford said: “It’s a great privilege to be hosting this important and exciting exhibition which I’m sure will have wide appeal to anyone interested in British art and culture. We are very much looking forward to welcoming visitors to Bonhams during August.”
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.
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 now, fine examples can be seen together, including items rarely on public display, curated from national, international and private collections.
Grinling Gibbons: Centuries in the Making 3 – 27 August 2021 Bonhams, 101 New Bond Street, London W1S 1SR bonhams.com.