Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chapter II: The Use of Time is Fate

On p. 38 I mention that Grinling Gibbons arrived in Britain as "a maker of small tour-de-force figure sculptures, usually on religious themes."  The earliest carving of his we have, less than 15" high, is a boxwood relief sculpture of King David playing the harp, which the young Gibbons may actually have brought from Europe as a sampler.

And here is the relief sculpture after Tintoretto's Crucifixion that the young Gibbons was at work on when he was discovered in the obscure cottage by John Evelyn (p. 36-38).  The relief itself is four feet wide, and it has a frame of flowers very unlike those carved by Gibbons later:

Flowers, that is, unlike those in Gibbons's reredos carving at St. James's Church, where I had my conversion experience (p.44). Here is a full view of this recently conserved and lightened composition from 1684 (you can scroll down to chapter V to see the way it used to look):

On p. 44 I write about how W.B. Yeats embraced the idea of Unity of Being, the idea that a simple craftsman who works with his hands can come closer to the divine than even a philosopher can. "It's all in a beautiful passage from Yeats's prose that I've had tacked up above my desk ever since my earliest days in Cambridge... There it is above my desk still, a little yellowed now, that sheet of paper with Yeats's words."  The passage is from A Vision.

On p. 54, my first encounter with a carving chisel.  "Essence of tool, it seemed. Only two parts to it: a wood handle and a steel blade."