Inigo Jones changed the course of English architecture, introducing new Renaissance ideas to Britain.
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
The first and greatest of English Renaissance architects, Inigo Jones was an unlikely candidate to change the landscape of British style and design. Yet this self-taught son of a Smithfield clothmaker had an enormous effect on the course of British art and architecture.
It is unfortunate for Jones, and for us, that for the rest of his tenure as Surveyor-General, Parliament was very tight with the purse strings. Jones is only known to have undertaken about 40 works for the crown, and very few of these have survived unaltered.The first major project Jones undertook for the king was Queen's House, in Greenwich. The house was begun for James' queen, Anne of Denmark. However, Anne died soon after building started, and the project was put on hold for almost 15 years before being finished for another queen, this time Henrietta Maria.
Banqueting House was intended to be a setting for formal banquets and court masques, and it was based on the design of a Roman basilica. The upper hall is built to a "double cube", that is 110 x 55 x 55 ft., and classical orders are used in both exterior and interior. The building was for many years the home of the Imperial War Museum, though now it has been restored to its original purpose as a venue for state occasions.
The Duke felt obliged to provide a church, though he cautrioned Jones that he wanted to economise. He told his architect to simply erect a "barn". Jones' oft-quoted response was that his lordship would have "the finest barn in Europe". Sadly, little remains of the original church, and the square has been remodeled several times. For many years it served as London's chief produce market, though now it is given over to very trendy shopping.
For many years Jones was thought to have been responsible for the work at Wilton House, Wiltshire. This is now believed to be the work of his pupil and nephew James Webb. Many years later the Italian influence that Jones introduced to Britain was revived by Lord Burlington and the Palladian movement. Inigo Jones died in 1652.
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