Grinling Gibbons Biography (Anglo Dutch sculptor and wood carver)


Who is Grinling Gibbons? Grinling Gibbons biography, life story and info about his wood art.

Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721); was the master wood carver of Charles II of England, and perhaps the most skilful wood carver of all time. He could carve flowers and leaves in wood with such skill and delicacy that they shook in the breeze, and he began a quite new style of ornamentation.

Grinling Gibbons

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It is not certain where Grinling Gibbons was born nor whether his parents were English or Dutch. The first work to bring him fame was carving taken from another artist’s drawing of “The Stoning of St. Stephen”. This masterpiece was carved when he was 23 years old, and it is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Gibbons was soon doing work for many rich and important people. He was recommended to Sir Christopher Wren, who was rebuilding London’s City churches after the Great Fire of 1666. Wren employed Grinling Gibbons to design and carve interior decorations for St. George’s Chapel at Windsor, St. James’s Church in Piccadilly, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

As his fame grew he was employed to carve rich and noble schemes of decoration for many great houses of England. Birds, flowers, fruit, vegetables and occasionally figures and heads of cherubs were all carved in great detail.


To show his almost uncanny skill, Gibbons once carved in limewood an imitation of a lace collar. This cleverness was sometimes a failing, for occasionally he tried to show off his talent even more than to make a beautiful design.

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