A MAJOR exhibition on the legendary carver, Grinling Gibbons, is to open this month, marking 350 years since his time working as a journeyman in York.

Fairfax House in York has opened the exhibition today (Saturday, April 14) on the 370th birthday of the craftsman.

The Genius of Grinling Gibbons is the first exhibition in 20 years to focus on the work of this legendary carver and will explore the life and work of one of Britain’s greatest artists and craftsmen – charting his development from obscurity through to becoming the country’s most celebrated master-carver, working for the King himself.

Fairfax House has secured on loan an array of works from St Paul’s Cathedral, The Bodleian, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Canterbury Cathedral and the National Portrait Gallery, as well as the Frits Lugt Collection in Paris.

In a coup for this exhibition, one of the master-carver’s most iconic pieces, Gibbons’ ‘lace’ cravat has also been lent from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Carved from limewood, this piece was worn in 1769 by Horace Walpole as a clever deception to fool some distinguished French, Spanish and Portuguese visitors who firmly believed this was the dress of an English country gentleman.

This exhibition also celebrates the ‘home-coming’ of Gibbons’ ‘King David Panel’, saved from sale and international export by Fairfax House in 2017, thanks to generous grants and monies raised through a major public fundraising campaign.

Fairfax House director, Hannah Phillip said: “Fairfax House holds very dear its responsibilities as the custodian of this piece of national history.

“Grinling Gibbons’ King David panel has been tucked away in private collections all through its ‘life’, and we are determined that this at last shall no longer be the case.

“Through this exhibition, we plan to share this amazing example of craftsmanship and at the same time create new awareness of what extraordinary things could be created from the medium of wood by the hand of this one individual.”