Thursday, 13 June 2013

Inspired By Lace - The Carving of Grinling Gibbons

This is an exquisite lace cravat which can be seen in the Bowes Museum, Northumbria. It is Venetian raised needleworked lace and was made in around 1675.

Now compare this incredible, finely carved cravat imitating Venetian needlepoint lace by the master woodworking artist, Grinling Gibbons, which once belonged to Horace Walpole and is now in the V&A, London. In 1769, Horace Walpole greeted French visitors at the gate of Strawberry Hill, his neo-Gothic villa in Twickenham, wearing this cravat. He later remarked: The French servants stared, and firmly believed this was the dress of English country gentlemen.

Grinling's work was a tour de force in limewood showing each individual stitched thread - I hope you can see. Sadly the wearing of the piece probably accounted for some damage around picots on the lower edge.

I can't go without leaving you this image of the young Walpole, who here proudly displays another tour de force - this time in fabulous embroidery - what a jacket that is!

Grinling Gibbons was also the master of this piece above - the Cosimo panel. It was commissioned by King Charles II from Grinling as a gift to the Duke of Tuscany and here again, at the top in the middle, beneath the two birds, can be seen another masterpiece of lace rendering, also in limewood.

And what goes around, comes around. And here I thought you might like to see some modern dresses - the one above by Alexander McQueen - inspired by Grinling Gibbons' wood carving.

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