Deep-relief carvings by David Esterly

Posted By on February 27, 2011

botanical head by David Esterly

“Botanical Head” by David Esterly

David Esterly
These carvings are done by David Esterly from upstate New York, United States.
And the most amazing thing about these carvings is that David Esterly is one hundred percent self-taught woodcarver.

One could say that David Esterly started carving accidentally.
While studying literature in England in the 1970s, David Esterly walked into a London church and had “a sort of conversion experience.”
It wasn’t the liturgy that moved him, but the deep-relief floral altarpiece carved in limewood by 17th-century master Grinling Gibbons.
Esterly’s first impulse was to write a book about Gibbons.
To better understand the carving, he bought limewood and chisels and began trying it.
Esterly had always assumed he had no artistic aptitude, but inching along by trial and error he was soon so deeply immersed in carving that he abandoned the book.
And before long, without a day’s instruction, he was making his living as a carver.

David Esterly has dedicated himself to the astonishingly deep, detailed, and delicate style that 17th-century master Grinling Gibbons pioneered.
Esterly carves all his pieces, as Gibbons did, from European linden, or limewood—a cousin of American basswood but better for this sort of carving—and leaves them without finish.
In 1998, Esterly returned to London to curate the Gibbons exhibition at the renowned Victoria and Albert Museum.

Quote from Esterly’s website:

Don’t copy Gibbons or Arcimboldo or the Dutch still life painters; steal from them.
Revive the old vessels – trophy, overmantel, overdoor, drop – but pour new wine into them, and rethink the designs so that they work even in a minimalist setting.
Use a decorative vocabulary, but with sculptural intent.
Bring back the delight in trompe l’oeil, but (limewood being a monochrome medium) make it a more sophisticated illusionism, based on form not color.

Here You can see audio slideshow about Esterly’s work:  audio slideshow
And here is David Esterly’s website:

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11 Responses to “Deep-relief carvings by David Esterly”

  1. Grace says:

    All of the artists you feature are incredible but these just blew me away! I want one!

  2. jakill says:

    Grinling Gibbons work blows me away whenever I can get to see any all these hundreds of years later. This pics of David Esterley’s do too.

  3. Anji says:

    Incredible, thank goodness he walked into that church

    I visit your blog when I’m on on ExposeYourBlog!

  4. Such beautiful woodwork, I’m completely speechless when I see this stuff!

  5. Wood carvings are awakening here – transform into the unforgettable garden of dreams. I like these works very much. Love indwell the artworks and comforts the grateful Art by Tomas

  6. Dear David Esterly, today I am glad to come here and enjoy your unforgettable works again. Each time I look at your wood, just magical smell of great art fills me. I am glad to thank you once again.

  7. lisa says:

    i love your work! i have a 52″ x 38″ framed space that i want a 3 dimensional wood carving to be in. do you have a flower and or musical instrument arrangement that would fit?

    do you have more pictures of your work i can see?

  8. Ralph frenzilli says:

    Very impressed, love the work. I have been carving for 2 years and am now teaching. My favorite is relief carving.
    I would love to see more work, do you have a gallery? What are your prices? do you give classes?

  9. JJ Lynes says:

    Incredible work demonstrating technical expertise and creative abilities. What are the most important tips can you offer?

  10. Roberta says:

    The book was only temporarily abandoned. “Grinling Gibbons and the Art of Carving” is scheduled for publication by Abrams in March 2013.

  11. Sharon Smith says:

    Just viewed your exibit at Munson Williams in Utica. Truly beautiful and unique. You are truly talented.

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