A great Italian masterpiece brought to life as a woodcut by an English genius, one of the National Trust’s finest treasures

We're taking a look at nine of the greatest objects on display in the National Trust's properties across Britain — today it's the astonishing carving at Dunham Massey.

The National Trust’s collections are not only vast, but contain objects of astonishing beauty, quality and human interest. To coincide with the Trust’s 125 anniversary, we asked nine senior curators — including national experts in painting and sculpture, textiles, furniture and decorative arts — to choose their favourite object from among those in their care.

The Crucifixion (after Jacopo Tintoretto), wooden carving by Grinling Gibbons, at Dunham Massey, Greater Manchester

Chosen by Christopher Rowell, Furniture curator

Grinling Gibbons (1648–1721) gave his name to a whole school of naturalistic limewood carving. His tercentenary in 2021 will be marked by the Trust with exhibitions and a book. Prodigiously skilful and imaginative, he was born and, presumably, trained in Rotterdam, where wood carving was in demand for shipbuilding.

This panel after Tintoretto’s Crucifixion, ambitiously emulating the Old Master’s work, is encompassed by a tightly arranged garland resembling a contemporary Dutch picture frame. When finishing it in a remote rural shed near the Deptford docks in 1671, Gibbons was discovered by John Evelyn, who introduced him to Charles II. Evelyn’s diary brings the genesis and display of the panel vividly to life.

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