Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Charles II statue the work of a master craftsman

The conservation of the Charles II statue has revealed a link to one of the greatest British craftsmen – Grinling Gibbons.

May 31, 2011

Gibbons rose to prominence in the late seventeenth century because of his exceptional wood carving at St Paul’s Cathedral, Blenheim Palace and Hampton Court Palace. However the existence of a bronze statue of Charles II at Windsor Castle, which is well documented as being sculpted by Gibbons, has led to much speculation about the Edinburgh example.

Close examination has now revealed that the Edinburgh statue is taken from the same master as the  example of Charles II at Windsor Castle. However as the Edinburgh version is made of lead it had distorted over time, and details such as a scabbard and sword have been lost.

Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: "This is hugely significant, not only for Edinburgh but also for our understanding of Gibbons and his abilities as a sculptor. He is rightly regarded as the finest wood-carver to have worked in these lands, bringing vigour, life and joy to the timber touched by his chisel, but he is not widely regarded as a sculptor. The confirmation that the Edinburgh statue of Charles II is from the same master as the Windsor bronze is, in this respect, incredibly exciting.”

Brian Hall of Hall Conservation who undertook the conservation work commented: “I have been to Windsor and taken detailed photos of the bronze Charles II statue there, and our conclusion is that the moulds for the Edinburgh version are taken from the same master. The study shows the extent of distortion to the lead version. The figure of the Windsor bronze is far more upright and clearly shows the extent to which the lead figure has slumped, forwards, squashed downwards and again over point loading at the shoulders and back on the inadequate armature.”

The statue of Charles II was conserved as part of the Twelve Monuments Restoration Project, a joint initiative of the City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh World Heritage. In October 2010 the statue was removed from its plinth in Parliament Square, and returned last month following an extensive restoration..

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