Sculpture Journal

Grinling Gibbons in context: the vitality of English seventeenth-century sculptural production

Sculpture Journal (2020), 29, (3), 299–312.

Abstract

Since the beginning of the twentieth century there has been a small but significant number of studies dedicated to Grinling Gibbons. In the mid-century Gibbons’s establishment in the broader public consciousness can be traced in the emergence of children’s books and school plays that mythologized his life and career. Yet all publications, both scholarly and juvenile, are united in their presentation of Gibbons as the only sculptor of significance to have emerged in late seventeenth-century England. I argue that this is an inaccurate portrayal of the period, and one that was not shared by his contemporaries. By contextualizing Gibbons among his predecessors, collaborators and competitors, the specific nature of Gibbons’s sculptural contribution can be more accurately placed. Such an analysis further provides a perspective from which we can understand more fully the ways in which sculpture mattered to a seventeenth-century audience.

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Author details

Davis, Charlotte