Letter from Grinling Gibbons to John Etty 

Creator(s):   Grinling Gibbons 1648-1721

Date:    10 July 1684

Accession Number:   1976-A.517

Materials:   Paper

Location:   Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris

Credit Line (copyright notice for material) :   © Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris


This letter written by Gibbons to John Etty in 1684 plays a crucial role in helping to understand and piece together Gibbons’ life and career. Such details are scant making this a tremendously important piece of documentation. The letter, in which Gibbons’ addresses Etty as ‘deare friend’, signals a well-established, close relationship. When connected to other references of Gibbons’ time in York, it builds a compelling narrative for Gibbons having spent his first years in York after leaving Rotterdam in the employ of the city’s leading architect and master craftsman.  The letter also references a monument that Gibbons had been commissioned to produce for Archbishop Richard Sterne in York Minster. This aspect opens further interesting insights into his statuary work, use of media other than wood (for which he is primarily famed) and the role of his workshop in producing a series of ecclesiastical monuments across the country.

For more on Gibbons’ work at York Minster see Monument to Archbishop John Dolben