Saturday 30 March 2013

An Easter offering: Grinling Gibbons

I had been struggling to think of a little Easter appropriate offering for my blog. Of course the walls and store rooms of London's galleries are filled with paintings meditating on the theme of the passion of Christ and his subsequent Resurrection which would all be appropriate. So it is really a case of being spoilt for choice.

Luckily this morning in the attempt to do something constructive with my weekend off work I watched the second part of BBC Fours Carved with Love: The Genius of British Woodwork documentary series available on BBC iPlayer. This episode (the second of three) focused upon the life and work of the eminent wood carver and sculptor Grinling Gibbons.

It included this crucifixion which was the work that legend has it helped kick start his phenomenal career. It threw him in the way of the influential diarist Evelyn who wrote… "I saw the young man at his carving, by the light of a candle. I saw him to be engaged on a carved representation of Tintoretto's "Crucifixion", which he had in a frame of his own making." Evelyn in turn helped introduce him into the circles where his work could receive prestigious commissions.

 Crucifixion by Grinling Gibbons

The crucifixion wood carving is currently housed in Dunham Massey Cheshire and was completed by the artist at the tender age of 19. As Evelyn points out it is based upon this work by Jacopo Tintoretto in la Scuola di San Rocco in Venice. Both artists have attempted to represent chaotic scene of the crucifixion with the Vigin mary swooning in the foreground clouds darkening the sky in the background and the bodies of the two other men crucified alongside Christ being taken down amidst soldiers, onlookers, tools and horses.

Jacopo Tintoretto Crucifixion

Gibbons entire work is carved from a single piece of limewood. Unusual as the sculptor became particularly famous for his ability to create large scale works formed by the joining of lots of small pieces, a technique that allowed him to create some of his most spectacular and breath takingly detailed works.

Redos at St James Piccadilly by Grinling Gibbons

Some of which are even located in London such as the incredible work in St Pauls Cathedral, his carvings at Windsor Castle, the Orangery in Kensington and the church of St James Piccadilly. To name but a few.

Tonight the third part of this series will be shown on BBC four from 8 o’clock until 9 o’clock.

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