Fairfax House has launched an appeal to save for the nation and for Yorkshire a 17th century sculpture by ‘The Michelangelo of Wood’, Grinling Gibbons – Britain’s greatest decorative woodcarver, celebrated for giving the medium of wood, in the words of Horace Walpole (1717-1797), ‘the loose and airy lightness of a flower’.

Gibbons achieved immense fame even in his own lifetime becoming royal carver to the King and considered as a ‘British Bernini’. Today this master-carver is recognised throughout the world for his extraordinary genius and skills and his pioneering of a radically new style in sculpture based on realism. But what is less well-known, is that Gibbons spent his first formative years (c. 1667-1671) in York In this burgeoning city, he would have met a vibrant commercial, artistic and intellectual scene.

Until now this artwork has remained hidden in international private collections and this represents the first and only opportunity to secure it for Yorkshire and the nation. If saved, this masterpiece would become a lynchpin of a collection that cherishes Britain’s legacy of exquisite craftsmanship in the long-eighteenth century.

As Hannah Phillip, Director, commented: ‘Our vision is that through this appeal, Fairfax House will secure a lasting legacy for the nation and to unlock the door to an object that has remained hidden away in private collections throughout its life. Above all, we want to bring awareness to the extraordinary genius and skill of Grinling Gibbons, and show what extraordinary things could be created from the medium of wood by the hand of one individual.’

So far Fairfax House has raised just over £240,000 towards the appeal with £100,000 generously granted from the Heritage Lottery Fund (Yorkshire), £100,000 from Art Fund and £42,500 from Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund. A final £60,000 must be raised to save this panel and secure the purchase, and Fairfax House is now going public with its appeal to ask for the nation’s support of this cause.

The ‘Save the King’ Appeal

Donations to the appeal can be made via MyDonate, with more information on the Grinling Gibbons King David carving and links to the appeal via the Fairfax House website: http://www.fairfaxhouse.co.uk/support/savetheking/

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