The Architectural Designs Of Inigo Jones
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Published: Tue, 25 Apr 2017
Inigo Jones has been credited for introducing the first taste of Palladian and classical architecture to the Stuart court in the early seventeenth century. The majority of his designs were influenced more by the rules of classical architecture than by his political rulers, although the rulers did have input in altering designs to their taste. Jones had gained a taste for Roman and Greek architecture thorough his travels in Italy, which inspired his design of buildings. The use of Palladianism was influenced by the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio. He also became the Surveyor for the King’s Court, which meant that he had to obey his political rulers. These facts are important in giving a larger perspective to the work of Jones. Six key areas which will be discussed include: the design of Queens House, The Banqueting House, Somerset House, The Queen’s Chapel, the design of the Masque and the creation of Covent Garden. Queens House and the Banqueting House reveal the influence of Palladian and classical architecture in the work of Jones, together with the influence of political rulers. The design of the Queens Chapel was also inspired by Classical architecture and thus needs consideration. Covent Garden was a design by Jones influenced by the use of the Italian Piazza design. The creation of the Masque involved creating an architectural stage design for high society to socialise, although he was influenced by classicists, Marcus Vitruvius and Sebastiano Serlio in stage design. Somerset House was remodelled by the Order of Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of James I and Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I. Thus, Jones’ architectural design was influenced more by the rules of Classical Architecture than political rulers.
The architectural design of Queens House was more influenced by the rules of classical architecture, than by his political rulers. The historian John Peacock suggests that Jones was influenced by Roman and Italian Renaissance architecture in its design.  Jones was the first to introduce Palladianism at Queens House, a form of architecture which influenced him through his travels in Italy. Jones himself described his design of Queen’s House as his ‘finest example of Palladian design.’  Indeed, Jones had spent three years in Italy studying Italian architecture and it was his first major commission designed in Palladian style. Moreover, it can be seen as a revolutionary building as, at the time, native buildings were in a red-brick Tudor-deprived style. For example, the classical features such as the colonnade and the proportion and mathematical precision reflect Jones’ learning’s. It mirrored the Medici Villa at Poggio a Caiano, which was a Palladian Villa. These facts suggest that he was influenced by the rules of classical architecture. However, some historians believe that Jones was influenced by Queen Anne, trying to assert her authority and power through architecture.  For example, the new pavilion by Greenwich was designed by Jones at the order of Queen Anne, which acted as a private retreat and an area of hospitality. This pavilion revealed the power of Queen Anne, as it was situated on a vast amount of ground, overlooking the views and it also linked the Woolwich road to Greenwich, between the gardens and the royal parks. Thus, there was a greater influence for his design by classical architecture, although there was an influence from his political rulers.
The architectural design of The Banqueting House in Whitehall was influenced more by the rules of classical architecture than his political rulers. It was a commission by Charles I and as surveyor for the King, it was his duty to abide by Charles I’s wishes. However, the historian David Watkin suggests that Jones’ design of the House was greatly influenced by Palladian design.  Indeed, this is evident with the simple, classically inspired exterior, which Jones gained inspiration from during his travels in Italy. Jones visited Venice, where he studied the antique buildings with fourth books of Palladio, Quattro Libri. This inspiration was further gained by meeting the architect Scamozzi, who had also gained inspiration from Palladio. Jones himself described the Palladian architecture as, ‘solid, proportionable, according to the rules, masculine and unaffected.’  Thus, it suggests that Jones’ legacy of his visit to Italy played a profound role in his Palladian-style buildings. For example, the House’ interior was built to resemble a Roman basilica, showing an influence from Italy. However, others believe that Jones was influenced by Charles I. The motive for building The House was for masque entertainment, which was when high-society socialised in a stage setting. Jones, by the wish of Charles I, added the Flemish paintings on the ceiling with the help of Paul Rubens, which asserted the power of Kingship and authority Charles I wished to show. Thus, there was a greater influence for his design by classical architecture, although there was an influence from his political rulers.
The architectural design of the Queen’s Chapel, was, according to historians, influenced more by the rules of classical architecture, than by his political rulers.  The design of the chapel was an inspiration from Jones’ travels.  For example, the exterior is a melange between a Roman temple and a house designed by Palladio, whilst the pediment on top shows a Greek influence. There is also a Serlian window, revealing the inspiration from Serlio. These features suggest the design was inspired by the rules of classical architecture. Jones himself reveals the influence on the design from his travels, ‘The Queens chapel is an example of my love affair with Palladio and Serlio.’  Therefore, this suggests that Jones had a great admiration for Palladio and Serlio, which suggests that their legacy of architecture had a profound effect on the building’s design. However, some historians have argued that there is a political imperative.  For example, the chapel was used by Henrietta Maria, the Catholic Queen of Charles I, and was a Roman Catholic Church. This is important because, it was built at a time when Roman Catholic churches were prohibited from being built, due to the advent of Protestantism in England. Thus, the design of Queens Chapel was more influenced by the rules of classical architecture, however, there was a political influence.
The architectural design of Covent Garden was more influenced by the rules of classical architecture than by the rules of his political leaders. It was commissioned by the help of the Earl of Bedford, who had obtained a licence at a cost of £2,000. The historian John Summerson suggests that there was an Italian influence.  For example, the Italian style Piazza was influenced by the classical style of the Romans and there are also influences from Andrea Palladio and Sebastiano Serlio. The piazza was surrounded with arcades, and used for when wealthy people wished to shop and socialise. Moreover, the church in the West side of the square, with its Doric portico and overhanging roof in the Tuscan tradition, anticipates that of a neo-classical influence from the eighteenth century. The elevations of the two ranges derive from a design by Serlio for a palace overlooking the square, and the arches may conform to a type, which Serlio saw as Tuscan. Thus, the design of Covent Garden was mostly influenced by the rules of classical architecture.
The architectural design of Masques was more influenced by the rules of classical architecture than by his political rulers. Masques were events where high society would socialise within a stage design. Royalty would get renowned architects to design their costumes and stage set based on taste and preference. Some historians suggest he was influenced by the rules of classical architecture.  For example, he mirrored the stage design of Serlio’s Architettura, a satirical play, which he discovered when he used the devices of Serlio at Oxford.  Moreover, regarding The Masque of Blackness, Jones emulated other Italian features, such as the artificial sea whilst also abolishing the system of dispersed decorations. Instead, he concentrated his aim in displaying a raised stage, which was a key rule of classical architecture within Italy, which Jones had also learnt from his time in oxford. He was also influenced by the Roman Architect Marcus Vitruvius. Jones himself claimed, that he learnt stage design from Vitruvius’ ‘skill with craftsmanship and technological know-how.’  Vitruvius believed that stage design was a type of architecture, which he explains in his Fifth Book, which Jones read and applied to his various stage designs. For example, in Luminalia, the vivid gold patterns were a style given by Vitruvius in the Fifth Book.  The historian Christy Anderson suggests that Jones was influenced by the royalty, to help design a masque.  As Jones had studied Masque design at the Medici court in Florence, he was seen as an experienced enough to design elaborate stage settings for royalty. Indeed, Jones designed the Masque of Blackness and Masque of beauty for Queen Anne, based on her tastes at the Queens House. Another area where the masque was encouraged was Somerset House in 1604. A major masque design which Somerset House hosted was a peace treaty and conference between Holland, Spain and England.  At the Banqueting House, productions such as, Luminalia, about the festival of lights, and Britannia Triumphans, which exuded the glory of the British aristocracy, were performed.  The aim of these masques was to possibly express wealth and power, as is evident with the excesses of stage design. For example, in Luminalia, the use of lighting exuded the glory of royalty, as is evident with Henrietta Maria descending with ‘a glory of rays.’ This quote suggests that she was portrayed as an highly important figure. Thus, regarding the masque, he was influenced more by the rules of classical architecture, although he satisfied the tastes of political rulers.
However, there are buildings where his designs were influenced by his political rulers. Historians believe a building which was more influenced by his political rulers than the rules of classical architecture was Somerset House, which has been seen as an attempt by royalty to express their high status.  He was ordered by Queen Anne and Henrietta Maria, to redesign the building according to their tastes. Jones built an open arcade of nine arches in the entrance on the upper court, whilst the lower court was remodelled. He also decorated the Queen’s closet, the cabinet room and cistern and built a river landing from Portland Stone. An area which was designed for Henrietta Maria was a new chapel for the Queen. It was described as being ‘lavish, more beautiful, larger and grander than ever.’  These changes revealed the political power of royalty, and cost altogether £35,000, which shows that it was a highly expensive enterprise.  Indeed, it was the legacy of royalty to express their power, as was evident with the motive for building Somerset House: to reveal the high status of the Duke of Somerset, Edward Seymour. Thus, Inigo Jones was influenced more by his political rulers than the rules of classical architecture, to satisfy their needs for expressing wealth and power.
Inigo Jones was more influenced the rules of classical architecture, than by his political rulers, who had a say in altering designs according to their tastes. Queens House and The Banqueting Hall were influenced by Palladio and classical architecture. Somerset House was commissioned by royalty, specifically remodelling with the addition of the Queen’s Chapel. The design of Covent Garden was more influenced by rules of classical architecture in the shape of an Italian piazza. The advent of the Masque was more influenced by the rules of classical architecture, although he did satisfy the needs of political rulers. The Queen’s Chapel design at St James’ Palace was influenced more by the rules of classical architecture, however it was commissioned by Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles I. Through his travels, Jones was able to inspire a renaissance in British architecture, with the introduction of classicism, which had before been alien to the Stuarts, but following his designs were accepted and loved.
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