In my PhD research I am showing the importance and ubiquitousness of woodcarving in seventeenth century England and Holland. In both countries a specific type of ornamental woodcarving developed, which differed from woodcarving in other countries. The seventeenth century was the period of extensive political, social, economic and cultural exchange between Holland and England. It is widely acknowledged that during that period Dutch migrant artists greatly influenced British art. Nevertheless, the second half of the seventeenth century is considered the highest point of the English woodcarving tradition and scholars remain silent on possible Dutch inspirations. The reason might be that Dutch woodcarving has never been studied in depth and is practically unknown abroad. Possible English influences on Dutch woodcarving have not been discussed either.
My research question is how woodcarving reflects Anglo-Dutch relationships in the second half of the seventeenth century and I am trying to answer this question by choosing two major case studies: Rotterdam in the 1660s and The Hague at the end of the seventeenth century. In the former case the context of trade between England and Holland and ship building is crucial. In this part I am focusing on the celebrated woodcarver Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721) who was born in Rotterdam, left Holland in 1667 and made a spectacular career in England. When I write about The Hague I will focus on local woodcarvers who worked for the Anglo-Dutch court of William and Mary.