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Inigo Jones: The Original Grand Tourist

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Left to Right, Vitruvius, Palladio, Inigo Jones

Inigo Jones was a young artist, later architect, who went on two grand tours at the end of the 16th century, and in the early 17th Century. There he studied and record the drawings, designs, styles and patterns of Andrea di Pietro della Gondola of Padua (1508-1580). He is more commonly known as Palladio. His work was itself the result of the study of the Roman Vitruvius (c. 80–70 BC, died after c. 15 BC).

Palladio had eventually became Surveyor of Works, or chief architect, to the Republic of Venice. His clients then included the wealthy Venetian nobility. He built theatres, churches and villas which fascinated Inigo Jones.

Thomas Howard (1585-1646)

The introduction of the Palladian style in the United Kingdom was the work of Jones; his interest being aided by his patron and travelling companion on the second tour, Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel. Howard met Scamozzi, pupil of Palladio’s, and purchased his entire stock of Palladio’s drawings. The Earl and Countess Arundel were preeminent patrons and collectors af antiquities and art at that time.

This second tour Jones described as the most momentous event of his life and it was arguably the most important Grand Tour ever undertaken. Between his two trips Jones had been designer of costumes and scenery for court masques for Queen Anne (wife of JamesI) He later became Surveyor of Works to Henry, Prince of Wales, 1610-12. Upon his return from the second grand tour he became Surveyor of Works to the king himself (1615-1642); first James I and subsequently Charles I.

Banqueting House (1622)
Banqueting House Built 1722

It was during this period that he used as inspiration two of Palladio’s palaces for the design of the Banqueting House, built in 1622 to replace an earlier one which was destroyed by fire. It is one of Britain’s earliest classical buildings, and is generally deemed to be Jones’  greatest achievements. It was entirely different to all the red-brick Tudor buildings that surrounded it.

On both of his grand tours Jones visited Paris and Italy, both had an influence on his work. In Paris, usually the first stop on the grand tour, visitors would make preparations for their trip which included shoping for cloths and perfume. They would also join the fashionable Parisians in the Italian inspired Place des Vosges square, (originally the Place Royale), built by Henri IV between 1605-12, probably to the designs of Baptiste du Cerceau. It was the first square, and the first attempt at town planning in Paris; later copied in many places across Europe.

A resemblance can be see between the Place des Vosges and Covent Garden, built in the 1630’s. The development was implemented by the fourth Earl of Bedford who had been given the land by Henry VIII. In the square is Jones’ Church, St Paul’s; the first classically designed church, and also the first Protestant church in England.

Covent Garden 1737

Covent Garden is even more ‘Italian’ than the Place des Vosges with its arcaded houses and their elegant facades, a reflection of Jones’ more extensive travels. It also incorporated the use of terraced house which are so familiar in the streets and squares of Britain today. Jones was therefore the architect of the style of houses and streets that many Britains have grown up in.

Although Jones had great influence over the development of London few of his own designs were ever built, and his classical ideas were generally disliked by the court. It was only in the theatre, with their elaborate sets, he had the freedom of creative expression. He was in fact a century ahead of his time. Palladio’s ideas were not developed in any considerable way  until Lord Burlington and Colen Campbell instigated the Georgian Palladian revival.

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