The Sixth Fairfax House Symposium in Georgian Studies

The sixth Fairfax House Symposium in Georgian Studies, held in conjunction with the exhibition ‘The Genius of Grinling Gibbons’ at Fairfax House, and in partnership with the History of Art department at the University of York, aims to stimulate new thinking and new perspectives on the life, work, legacy, and significance of Grinling Gibbons, master carver of Restoration England.

Gibbons is a celebrated figure, yet much about his life and work remains obscure and contentious: not least, the difficulties of attribution have meant that the exact extent, chronology, and character of his oeuvre remain unclear. Similarly, as a ‘great figure’ of the Restoration, he has tended to be considered in isolation rather than placed in his social, political, scientific, architectural, and artistic contexts, while his position within the marginalized field of decorative arts has distorted the scholarly and antiquarian perspectives through which he has been viewed. Questions of patronage, politics, artistic influence, and the collaborative and workshop cultures of creation, as well as the national identity ascribed to this ‘English genius’ who was born and trained in the Netherlands, may all require reassessment. The 370th anniversary of Gibbons’ birth (and the 350th anniversary of his arrival in York) provide an opportune moment to draw together the knowledge gained from previous generations of scholarship, to stimulate new ideas and perspectives, and to rethink the perception and reality of ‘England’s Master Carver’.



David Esterly, Master woodcarver and world-leading Gibbons specialist

Guest-presented in absentia by Mark Storey



Ada de Wit, The Wallace Collection

English and Dutch woodcarving in the age of Grinling Gibbons



David Luard, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Woodwork Conservator and specialist in the carving of Grinling Gibbons

Grinling Gibbons: Observations of a Conservator



Elin Bornemann, Collections Officer, Abingdon County Hall Museum

The Grinling Gibbons mirror at Abingdon Museum – what we know and what we don’t know


Dr Lucy Cutler, Independent researcher and art historian

Gibbons and Dutch Still Life Painting


Charlotte Davis, PhD candidate, History of Art, The University of York

Rediscovering the ‘inventor et sculpsit’ of Restoration carved art


Dr Claudine van Hensbergen, Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century English Literature at Northumbria University

‘That Matchless Statue of His Majesty’: Gibbons’ statue of Charles II for the Royal Exchange, London (1684)


Dr Sally Jeffery, Independent architectural and garden historian

Grinling Gibbons’s chimneypiece commissions for the Duchess of Buccleuch


Harriet Lewars, City & Guilds of London Art School

The colour and discolouring of wood carving


Emelia Quinn, DPhil candidate, University of Oxford

Still Life and Still Live: Grinling Gibbons’s Struggling Birds


Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein, Reader, University of York

‘Subject’ and ‘ornament’ in the work of Grinling Gibbons and 16th-century German sculptors


Dr Frances Sands, Curator of Drawings and Books, Sir John Soane’s Museum

Grinling Gibbons as a master of two dimensions


Dr Lynda Sayce, Lutist and musicologist, Birmingham University

‘Notes from the carver’s bench’


Dr Greg Sullivan, Independent Researcher in British sculpture

‘The first British name of any eminence in sculpture’: Allan Cunningham’s Life of Grinling Gibbons (1830)


Tony Webb, Retired Master Carver of St Paul’s Cathedral

The last of the big studio workshops


Dr Cordula van Wyhe, Senior Lecturer in History of Art, The University of York

Dead Meat in Focus: Gibbon’s garland in the drawing room at Sudbury Hall, Staffordshire





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Friday 19 Oct 2018

9am- 5pm

The Hilton, York and Fairfax House

Friends of Fairfax House