Review of The Lost Carving: A Journey into the Heart of Making, by David Esterly (Viking: New York, 2012) [Book Review]

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In 1986, David Esterly won a competition to carve a replacement of a Grinling Gibbons “wall drop” for Hampten Court Palace, in East Molesey, England. His task was an onerous one: Gibbons invented a style of carving that has been matched by few, and surpassed by still fewer. Esterly is one of the latter few; his technique is superb. The Lost Carving gives us an account of those fateful days at Hampton Court. Interwoven with memories of recreating the Gibbon’s piece, Esterly explains how he got involved with the esoteric field of limewood carving. Although he successfully completed his Ph.D. in English literature, he chose to avoid academia. Gibbons got to him instead, thanks to a chance encounter with one of his carvings in the 1970’s. Ever since, Esterly has struggled to understand, if not reach beyond, Gibbon’s vision and talent.
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