Houses - Where People Lived


Burlington House (because someone asked.)

From The English House by James Chambers, 1985 WW Norton.

The earl [of Burlington] was one of the most brilliant men of his generation; he was a member of the Privy Council by the time he was 21.... Under the young earl's influence, the fashion for Palladian architecture spread easily among classically educated gentlemen. The "Rule Of Taste" became as immutable as the Laws of Nature. Its arbiters were Burlington and the other great patrons...and its trinity of "Geniuses" to whom their architects adhered with inhibitingly zealous and punctilious loyalty, were Vitruvius, Palladio and, above all, [Inigo] Jones.

In 1717 Burlington paid for the publication of the second volume of Vitruvius Britanannicus and commissioned its author to replace James Gibbs on the rebuilding of Burlington House in Piccadilly. Two years later, he returned to Italy to study the architecture of Palladio. While he was there, he sought out a young man called William Kent whom he had met in Rome on his Grand Tour. Kent had been trained as a humble coach-decorator in Hull, but in 1709, at the expense of a patron, he and William Talman's son John had set out for Italy to study painting; and he had been living there ever since, earning his keep by showing English tourists around Rome. When Burlington came back to England, Kent came with him to decorate the interiors of Burlington House, and he remained in the earl's household for the rest of his life. Burlington House has been greatly altered....

Caption beneath a plate on this page [contemporary engraving of the exterior] Burlington House, London c. 1717. The most powerful patron and proponent of the new phase of Classical architecture in England was the Earl of Burlington, who employed [Colen] Campbell to alter his London house. All the emphasis here has been placed on the first floor or piano nobili, and the ground floor has been treated as a base by the use of rusticated stonework, where the joints have been emphasized by deep chamfering at the edges, producing a strong foundation-like quality to support the important architectural treatment of the floor above.

From The Shell Guide to the History of London W.R. Dalzell

Despite considerable alterations, Burlington House, now the Royal Academy of Arts, but formerly the town residence of Richard Boyle, third earl of Burlington, is still clearly an eighteenth century house, although it has lost the imposing gateway so savagely caricatured by Hogarth, and little of Colen Campbell's original design is visible after the remodeling of the house by Samuel Ware in 1815-18 and then again in the middle of the nineteenth century. It has a pseudo-Renaissance facade along Piccadilly, and after considerable alterations inside some attempts were made to give it a genuine eighteenth century appearance by the insertion of some ceiling panels by Benjamin West... The Saloon is probably more nearly in the condition in which it was originally designed by Colen Campbell than any of the other rooms, although the ballroom (now known as the Reynolds Room) is largely eighteenth century. This was in fact somewhat later than the Saloon; it was designed by Isaac Ware, a chimney-sweep's boy... The ceilings of the other rooms were probably painted by William Kent and Sir James Thornhill (Hogarth's reluctant father-in-law) but experts disagree on the attributions.

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