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English family of sculptors, wood-carvers and artificers. Gerard [Garret] Christmas (b London, bapt 15 Jan 1576; d London, 1634) is recorded as a stonecutter of East Smithfield, London, in 1607. In 1608–9 he was employed by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, on the sculptural decoration of the New Exchange (destr. 1737) in the Strand, London. In 1612 he was paid for casting a metal statue for a garden fountain (destr.) at the Earl's country seat, Hatfield House, Herts, the only piece of metal sculpture known to have been made in Jacobean England. He must also have been a highly competent wood-carver, for c. 1614 he was appointed Master Carver to the Navy with responsibility for the often elaborate sculptural decoration of the ships. He is said to have carved an equestrian figure of James I (c. 1617; destr.) in relief on Aldersgate, one of the entrances to the City of London, and for many years he designed, made and arranged the sets and stage properties required for the annual City pageants. In 1618 he was an assistant artificer; he rose to be joint chief artificer in the following year, and in 1621 he took sole charge of the work, a function that he performed in most years up to and including 1633, playing an increasingly important part in the production. He was also artificer for the abortive pageant celebrating the entry of Charles I into the City of London in 1626. Christmas's sole surviving work is the mundane monument with kneeling effigies commemorating Sir Robert Crane and his Two Wives (1626; Chilton, Suffolk, St Mary's), which probably gives an unfair impression of the sculptor's abilities.


From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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