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Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721) is the most celebrated carver in British history. His closely observed depictions of full-bodied natural forms, executed in hyperreal detail, captivated audiences of his own time as much as they captivate audiences today. But how much is really known about this man, his work and its implications in terms of the way we think about carving now? As part of the year-long Gibbons tercentenary celebrations of 2021/22, the V&A is hosting a two-day conference to explore the story of Gibbons but also to investigate broader themes around the subject of carving in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Britain and Europe.
On day one of the conference, an invited panel of speakers will present the latest research on Grinling Gibbons and his work. On the second day, international scholars, across disciplines, will consider the broader story of carving in this period, exploring themes of design, production, materials and techniques, and how these interacted to create the type of physical forms so recognizable as the product of Gibbons’ world.