The Stoning of St Stephen by Grinling Gibbons at The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Welcome to “Art, Culture & Books” with me Anthony King. Today I’ll be taking you on a video and photographic tour of ‘The Stoning of St Stephen’ by Grinling Gibbons which is made of limewood between 1680 – 90 at The Victoria and Albert Museum, London. According to biblical history, Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin was scathing and it was the angry crowd who threw the first stones.

As always, I take all the photos and videos myself on location, ensuring you get an up-close and personal view of the fascinating world of art and culture. This piece is behind glass but I tried my best to capture it for you. I’ll be popping in and out with commentary as this video progresses but for now let’s take a close up look.

Born in Rotterdam, Holland, Grinling Gibbons (1648 – 1721) crafted a detailed wood panel illustrating the Stoning of St Stephen within a complex architectural setting. Gibbons’ expertise in technique and composition lends the piece a remarkable sense of depth and perspective.

The limewood panel, portraying the execution of St Stephen (born about 5 AD – died about 34 AD), reveals Gibbons’ mastery. St Stephen faced death for provoking the Jerusalem legislative council with his sermon advocating the divinity of Christ.

The panel showcases the first Christian martyr. The biblical scene unfolds amidst grand Italianate buildings, with classical figures adopting various poses. Stephen, in simple robes, gazes heavenward at a vision of Christ.

Despite its biblical theme, the panel, designed for wall display, likely served a secular purpose. Unlike Gibbons’ diplomatic gift to Cosimo de’ Medici, it lacks a recorded commission. Gibbons may have crafted it for personal pleasure, retaining ownership until his death. James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos, acquired it at a posthumous sale in 1722.

Grinling Gibbons settled in England around 1667. Known for intricate woodcarving, he produced notable works for royal and aristocratic patrons, contributing to iconic locations such as Hampton Court and Windsor Castle. His workshop extended to statuary and church monuments in stone, marble, and bronze statues.

By Anthony King (c)