Exhibition at Dalkeith Palace
As an elected member of the British Master Carvers' Association, the oldest association of wood and stone carvers in the UK, I am taking part in this traveling exhibition to celebrate the tercentenary of Grinling Gibbons - arguably the most famous British carver. Dalkeith Palace, Edinburgh
'Summer' - Slate Platter
Based on the sheet music carved on the left-hand side book of the
‘musical trophy’ in the dining room at Petworth House.
Lynda Sayce, in her article (co-written with David Esterly): “‘He was likewise musical…’ An unexplored aspect of Grinling Gibbons” (Apollo, June 2000) identified that:
‘The carving of musical score and instruments with sufficient precision to bear close scrutiny is an accomplishment that Gibbons alone among English baroque woodcarvers appears to have possessed.’
So much so that they concluded that a sheet of performable music is a ‘personal and distinctive’ signature to Gibbons, maybe even more so than the legendary adopted ‘peapod’ trademark.
Lynda Sayce has identified the carving as incorporating passages from The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell, an opera based on Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream first performed in 1692 at the Dorset Garden Theatre, composed in honour of the 15th wedding anniversary of King William III and Mary II, in the same year as Gibbons carved the ‘musical trophy’, indicating ‘how much Gibbons remained closely in touch with current musical events’.
I have chosen the words from the musical score from the left-hand book which annotates the opening bars of ‘Here’s the Summer, Sprightly, Gay’ from Act 4. In Gibbon’s carving, he did not include the words, but the melody and bass are very accurate and in the original key.