Grinling Gibbons and the Art of Carving

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Many of these masterpieces were made to satisfy the demand of the colonial powers: the Portuguese, Dutch and British settlers who arrived on Indian shores from the late 15th century. They discovered, to their surprise, rare articles of courtly furniture richly worked and inlaid with precious stones and gold. However there was no local furniture that suited the settlers' manner of living, so they commissioned extravagant pieces along European lines from native craftsmen, allowing them free rein with local materials. The resulting fusion of Western forms with Indian materials and decorative techniques gave rise to a wide range of luxury goods - cabinets, game-tables, painted boxes, ceremonial arms - that were breathtaking in their craftsmanship and widely prized in Europe, where they found their way into royal collections, ecclesiastical treasuries and stately houses.