Cravat made of limewood 

Creator(s):   Grinling Gibbons 1648-1721

Date:    c1690

Accession Number:   W.181:1-1928

Dimensions:   24.1 x 20.9 x 5.1 cm

Materials:   Limewood, with raised and openwork carving

Location:   The V&A, on display in British Galleries, Room 118a

Credit Line (copyright notice for material) :   © Victoria and Albert Museum, London Given by The Hon. Mrs Walter Levy

Online Catalogue Entry :


This wooden cravat is carved in imitation of Venetian needlepoint lace and is life size. It was made to demonstrate the carver’s skill. Similar cravats appear in architectural decorative schemes associated with Gibbons. This piece was probably made to show and impress potential patrons.

The cravat belonged to Horace Walpole (1717-1797) who thought highly of Gibbons’ work as a woodcarver. His family home, Houghton, Norfolk, included a room decorated with Gibbons’ carving. Walpole thought that one of the ivory reliefs on his cabinet (W.52:1-1925) – that representing Judith with the head of Holofernes – was also carved by Gibbons although this attribution is not accepted today.

Gibbons’ cravat was displayed in the Tribune Room at Strawberry Hill with the Walpole Cabinet. It formed part of Horace Walpole’s collection of special small objects. In 1769 Walpole wore the cravat to receive some distinguished French, Spanish and Portuguese visitors at his Twickenham home, Strawberry Hill.