Who is Inigo Jones and why is he considered to be so important?
Inigo Jones was born in London in 1573 (he died in 1652). He is the first great canon of English architecture; Introducing the architecture of Roman antiquity to England in its purest form. He made a detailed study of the antique orders, on the rules laid out by Vitruvius in his Ten Books on Architecture and the proportions and room sizes of Andrea Palladio’s villas. He believed buildings should be unaffected and pure, following the rules of antiquity, rejecting superfluous ornament. Sadly, few of Jones’ buildings survive, but those that do must have seemed ‘other-worldly’ at the time, when compared with what was being built during the same period in England.
|The Classical Orders|
Jones is often accused of having had little impact on architectural design in England in the seventeenth century, This is not strictly true, but his influence has been buried by later Baroque trends. What is certain is that without Inigo Jones architecture in England, indeed Britain as a whole, during the following two centuries would probably have looked very different; no neatly proportioned town houses set around railed garden squares, no grand Palladian style country houses. It wasn’t just Inigo Jones who used the classical style, but he was the first man in England to study it seriously, to fully understand the principles and apply them to his buildings. It is Jones who laid the foundation stone for the classical architecture that followed in England.
|Palladio's Quattro Libri (though I think this is actually the THIRD book!)|
How did Inigo Jones get to become an architect?
Very little seems to be known about Jones’ early years. His father was a clothworker in Smithfield, so it is perhaps surprising that Jones should find himself working in the Royal Court. He may not have been the son of a nobleman, but Jones’ talents and vision were recognised and respected in the Stewart court. As an artist and draftsman he was able to express his ideas clearly on paper, and translate this into his stage designs and costumes, and later in his architectural designs.
It is possible that Jones was apprenticed to a joiner when he became a young man, it has been mentioned by Sir Christopher Wren that this was the case, but there is no evidence to support this idea. What we do know is that by 1603 Jones was under the employment of the 5th Earl of Rutland, as a ‘picture maker’; a painter in other words.
Jones had certainly spent some time abroad, touring European countries, most likely the Low Countries and Italy. Jones’ copy of Palladio’s Quattro Libri has been inscribed with the date ‘1601 doi docato Ven’ which implies that the book had been purchased by Jones in Venice that year. It is likely that Jones was travelling to study art and design, rather than purely to study architecture, although I am sure he would have taken an interest in architectural design as part of his studies. Jones is thought to have learnt Italian and was to earn a reputation as being an accomplished artist and draftsman and a well travelled man, which would prove useful a little later in his life.
Travelling abroad was difficult and expensive; it would be unlikely that Jones would have had an income sufficient to support his travels alone. It is highly likely that Jones travelled with Francis Manners, brother of the Earl of Rutland, who is known to have left England in 1598, and taken a tour of France, Germany and Italy, and Jones was probably introduced to some Royal Courts during the tour when Manners was being entertained by them. There is also a possibility that Jones spent a short time working as a draftsman for Christian IV of Denmark. Jones’ pupil, John Webb mentions that Jones and Christian IV were acquainted, but sadly Webb isn’t entirely reliable! But it has been suggested that Jones helped with the design of the gate tower at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen.
|Gate tower at Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen|
|Queen Anne of Denmark, wife to James I of England|
Christian IV would provide a useful link between Inigo Jones and Anne of Denmark; Christian IV’s sister, and wife to King James I of England. It’s easy to imagine a letter of introduction for Jones being sent from Christian to his sister Anne;
‘Hi Sis, you know you were looking for a guy to come up with a neat idea for your new masque, will this Inigo Jones guy is worth a try!’
Sadly, there is no evidence of any such letter. However, it was as a court painter and designer of masques that Jones arrived in the English Royal Court, probably around 1605.
|Costume design by Inigo Jones for a Masque|
What is a Masque?
A theatrical entertainment held in the royal court, with elaborate stage sets and costumes, based on characters and stories from classical mythology; Often with courtiers, even members of the royal family themselves, playing the major roles.
Here are some of Jones’ original drawings for some of his masques. Hundreds of original Jones’ original designs for stage sets and costumes still survive.
During his travels abroad Jones had studied the theatre and stage designs in Italy, and brought the new ideas seen there back to England. He is credited with introducing movable scenery and the proscenium arch to English theatre. He was also reported to have creating some amazing displays of lighting, which in a world of candles and torches would have been no small task! One speciality was using coloured lighting, placing candles behind coloured glass.
|How the stage sets were used to create a £D effect|
Through his stage designs Jones’ whether consciously or not, was able to introduce other Renaissance ideas, including perspective in drawing. Spectators of the masques were also introduced to Inigo Jones’ building design skills when they appeared in apparent 3D on the stage before them.
|A classical masque stage design by Jones|
Jones continued to work on his stage designs long after he was designing buildings for the King. He worked closely with Ben Johnson the play writer, though perhaps the word closely gives the wrong impression, as the two great egos did not always see eye to eye and there were often conflicts between the two, particularly about costs and payments, 'The Masque of Oberon' in 1611 cost over £2000 and the costumes alone cost over £1000. Jonson received just £40 for writing the script. It is also worth noting that Shakespeare was still alive for part of James I reign and wrote at least three of his plays during that time, including Measure for Measure and King Lear.
Jones’ earliest known architectural commission was for a monument to Lady Cotton c1610 (not completed until1634) at St Chad’s Church in Norton-in-Hales, Shropshire. This is the best photograph I have sadly, but I think you can see that it is rather theatrical, and Jones’ original drawing looks much like those he produced for his masque designs. Richly carved and decorated, it is more Jacobean than classical; however, some say it has similarities with Roman sarcophagi, which Jones may have studied on a trip to France in 1609.
It was while he was surveyor to Prince Henry that Inigo Jones was commissioned to build the Cotton monument, though it was Rowland Cotton who actually commissioned the work, not Prince Henry. Whilst employed by the Prince of Wales Jones met Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury. Cecil was a key member of James I’s court and had a deep interest in building. It was Cecil who was to give Jones his first commission for an actual building design. The commission was for The New Exchange on the Strand in London, however, Jones design was not followed, though some architectural historians believe that Jones still had some input into the final design that was built. In 1609 Jones also submitted a design for a commission by King James to rebuild the spire on the central tower of Saint Paul’s cathedral, which had been damaged by fire after a lightening strike in 1561, and had never been replaced. To me the design Jones came up with was a rather clumsy mixture of traditional gothic and classical elements, however it would have been nice to have seen how the design would have looked in situ, sadly it was another non-starter, and St Paul’s kept its stumpy little roof until it burnt down completely in 1666. However, Jones had not finished with the old cathedral just yet!
|The Old Saint Paul's Cathedral in London, the spire was lost in 1561 after a lightening strike and never fully replaced. The whole cathedral was destroyed during the Great Fire of 1666|
It was also in 1609 that Lord Salisbury called Jones to his new seat in Hertfordshire, Hatfield House. Records show that Jones was paid for ‘drawings of some architecture’ at Hatfield. It is likely that Jones was making improvements to the design of parts of the house, where building started in 1607. The south front of Hatfield shows a resemblance in its design to that of Jones’ original design for the New Exchange, with its arched loggia divided by pilasters, and central tower caped with a coat of arms (although at Hatfield the tower is only one bay wide and the New Exchange design has three bays).
|The south front of Hatfield House attributed to Inigo Jones|
With the support of Salisbury, and with architectural designs appearing increasingly in the stage designs of his masques, Jones was slowly building a reputation, if not as an architect, as someone worth consulting when it came to commissioning new buildings. It is from 1610 onwards that Jones begins to self-educate himself in architectural theory, and develops a keen interest in the antique architecture of Greece and Rome. We know that Jones owned copies of Palladio’s I Quattro libri, Barbaro’s I dieci libri dell’architettura diM. Vitruvio, Serlio’s Architettura and Tutte l’opere d’architettura et prospetiva di Sebastiano Serlio Bolognese, and Vasari’s Lives of the Artists (Delle vite de’ piu eccellenti pitori scultori et architettori) as well as a copy of Vitruvious’s Ten Books on Architecture. We know that Jones owned these books, because they still exist, and are filled with annotations in Jones’ own handwriting.
|Annotations by Inigo Jones|
What these annotations reveal is that Jones wasn’t just interested in copying what he saw in the books he was trying to understand the theory behind architecture; he considered the method of construction, the siting of houses, how the foundations and walls were built, the positioning of staircases, proportions of rooms and measurements of doors and windows. He looked at how practical Italian designs would be translated into an English landscape with English weather. He also made comparisons between the various authors of the books in his collection. Jones was almost certainly the first man in England to study architecture, and its theory in such detail and gain insight into the essential elements of classical architecture, it’s richness and diversity and how small changes in classical detail could affect the whole design of a building.
|Thomas Howard, Lord Arundel (note his collection of classical statuary)|
In 1613 Inigo Jones was invited to accompany Lord Arundel who had been asked to escort James I’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth to Heidelberg after her marriage. Arundel planned to tour Italy once his official duties had been completed and as Jones had travelled in Italy before and knew the language and country well, I’m sure that he was considered an ideal travelling companion.
|Palladio's Palazzo Barbaran|
This trip was to give Jones the opportunity to study the remains of ancient Roman buildings and Palladio’s villas at first hand, it also allowed Jones to speak with Vincenzo Scamozzi, who had studied under Palladio and had completed some of Palladio’s buildings after his death, and had an opportunity to meet a wealth of other architects working at the time and see their work.
|The Capitoline facade designed by Michelangelo|
It is important to note here that Jones was not particularly interested in the more fashionable architecture of the day in Italy. He was not a wholehearted supporter of the Mannerist architecture of Michelangelo, or the newly emerging Baroque (which was still in its infancy during this time), feeling that these styles should be confined to garden buildings and interiors; he is quoted as saying
‘[Architecture] ought to be solid, proportionable according to the rules, masculine and unaffected’.
And had little time for
‘[The] composed ornaments which proceed out of the abundance of designers and were brought in by Michelangelo and his followers’.
That is not to say that Palladio and his followers were not still respected in Italy and some buildings were still being built following the rules laid down by Vitruvius. Jones also collected drawings and plans by Palladio and others during this trip, which he would bring back to England for further study.
|The Queen's House, Greenwich|
What else did Jones design and build in England?
Jones returned to England in 1614 and in September 1615 was made Surveyor-General of the King’s Works, in charge of all major building works for the Stewart court. His first job in his new role was to design and build a house for Queen Anne of Denmark in 1616. A site was chosen in Greenwich Park, but there was one small problem with the site; a major public road ran through the park. Oddly, to prevent the queen from having to cross the road to gain access to the river, Jones built the house in two blocks, one each side of the road, and joined the two by a footbridge running over the road on the first floor. The house design is uncompromisingly classical. There is a rusticated ground floor, a loggia on the first floor of the rear elevation over- looking the park, and what appears to be (but isn’t actually) a flat roof surrounded by a balustrade. There are no extraneous decorations, no ogee shaped roofs, no towers or shaped gables. The building has been heavily influenced by what Jones had seen and studied in Italy on his recent tour there, with some adaptations, such as larger windows to allow more light into the house. Inside there is a magnificent hall, a single 40 foot cube rising through both storeys with a cantilevered balcony running around the edge on the first floor, connecting the first floor rooms. Jones also designed a beautiful circular staircase, known as the Tulip Staircase, which you may have seen before on my post about stairs.
|Early design for the Queen's House with a pediment, not used on final design|
|The Queen's House, rear elevation|
|the Italian marble floor of the Hall|
|The Tulip Staircase|
Compare the design for the Queen’s House at Greenwich with other houses built at the same time, like Blickling Hall, it must have seemed very alien to most English subjects. Fortunately for Jones the king was an enthusiastic patron who understood the logic behind Jones’ design.
|Blickling Hall built in 1616 at the same time as the Queen's House|
Sadly, Anne of Denmark died in 1619 and work on the house ceased. However, it was resumed again in the 1630’s to provide a home for Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I.
|The Banqueting House, Whitehall|
Jones’ next project was the Banqueting House at the Palace of Whitehall. The Banqueting House had played host to many of the elaborate masques that Jones had worked on for the royal court, but the original building had burnt down and a replacement was needed. The project began in 1619, and was completed in 1622. The building is two storeys high, with seven bays. The principle three bays in the centre have engaged columns and, above these columns, an entablature that protrudes further out than those on the rest of the building. The other bays are separated by pilasters, with double pilasters at either end of the façade. The interior is basically one huge room, a double cube 110 x 55 x 55 feet. The ceiling was divided into nine large panels, later inset with painted panels by Rubens in 1635. This style of ceiling was to have a major influence on interior design in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.
|The Banqueting House today|
|Detail of the engaged columns on the facade|
|The Double-cube room inside|
|The ceiling with panels painted by Rubens|
Did you notice this building in my Introduction to the period? It features as the view through a window in a portrait of King James I, and is also the backdrop to the execution of Charles I. The windows that you see today are not the original ones, which were replaced in the eighteenth century.
|The Banqueting House appears through the window|
|Charles I was executed outside the Banqueting House|
Jones had hoped to rebuild the whole of the Whitehall palace in this classical style; and drew up plans in the 1630s. The Banqueting house was to be one of a pair, but funds were in short supply, and the project never left the drawing board.
|Plans for a new palace at Whitehall, can you spot the Banqueting House and it's proposed twin?|
Jones next project was the Queens Chapel at St James’s Palace built between 1623 and 1627. Principally another double cube room, which is dominated by a large Venetian window and a rounded coffered ceiling based on a reconstruction by Palladio of the Temple of Venus and Rome.
|Inside the Queen's Chapel, St James's Palace|
|The Queen's Chapel by Inigo Jones|
Between 1631 and 1633 Jones was working closely with a Frenchman named Isaac de Caux on the design of a new piazza for the Earl of Bedford. The piazza was to be built on the site of an old convent garden in London owned by Bedford. Elegant arcaded houses where built on two sides around a central square, following new trends in town planning in France. One side of the square was to have a church, designed by Jones in an austere Tuscan order, which suited Bedford, who wanted to spend as little money on the church as possible. The church was the first to be built in London since the reformation, the only problem was that Jones wanted the entrance to the church to be on the pedimented temple front, but this would have meant the alter was at the west end and this was traditionally on the east end. Ultimately Jones stuck with tradition, and the temple front of St Paul’s church on Covent Garden is little more than a sham, you have to go behind the church to enter it! The original houses on Covent Garden have long gone, and the church was extensively rebuilt after a fire in the late eighteenth century. The famous market building and the Royal Opera House are all later additions, not part of Jones’ original plan.
|St Paul's Church, Covent Garden|
|Arcading around the square at Covent Garden|
Jones found a little more success in his design for west front entrance to Saint Paul’s Cathedral (1634-40). This portico had handsome Corinthian capitals and was capped with a balustrade. The rest of the cathedral remained defiantly medieval, and the building never did get a new spire. The whole cathedral was gutted during the Great Fire of London in 1666. By that time it was Wren who had been given charge of the rebuilding, and he originally tried to incorporate Jones’ portico into his new design, but for whatever reason it never happened and the portico was swept away with the rest of the cathedral ruins.
|Jones's design for the west front of St Paul's Cathedral|
|The west front of St Paul's Cathedral, London, note the stump onto of the tower where there spire was never replaced|
|Early design for the west front|
|An early design by Wren for the new St Paul's, which includes Jones' portico|
It is believed that Jones was behind the design of Stoke Park near Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire. It is not clear how many private homes Jones might have designed, but as a prominent architect of the time it is always possible that he was consulted by many wealthy landowners, even if he didn’t produce any actual plans himself, but without firm evidence it is almost impossible to say. The original house at Stoke Park has gone (its replacement is very ugly!) but the seventeenth century pavilions survive. With their giant order pilasters they perhaps owe something to Michelangelo, but then again, they are garden buildings, so perhaps Jones may have relented in his view of Italian Mannerism! I have found an image of Stoke Park and you can see the two pavilions either side of the main house, but I have no idea if it is the building attributed to Inigo Jones.
|The Stoke Park pavilions|
|A more romantic view of one of the pavilions!|
|Stoke Park, with what may be the original house in the centre|
It is at about this point that we can introduce John Webb (1611-72) Webb became Jones’ assistant in c1628 chiefly as a draftsman. Jones is likely to have passed on much of what he had learnt of architectural theory to Webb, and Webb also submitted designs for a new palace at Whitehall, presumably after Jones’ designs had not been accepted. However, the palace at Whitehall was only ever an architectural fantasy, the Stewart court simply lacked the funds to build the palace; still, it is always nice to dream!
|Wilton House, Wiltshire|
John Webb is often given credit for the south front of Wilton House in Wiltshire. The south front was originally built by Isaac de Caux c1636, the same man who had worked with Inigo Jones at Covent Garden, and Jones is likely to have given advice on its construction. A fire in 1647 badly damaged the south side of the house, and some rebuilding was required. By this time England was in the middle of the Civil War. Jones, as a royal servant and supporter of the crown, had been taken prisoner, but was later pardoned, and it was he, along with Webb, who undertook the renovations to Wilton House. There seems some debate in my books as to whether the pavilions and Venetian window were added to the building before or after the fire. What is clear is that they are in the classical tradition, and used by Palladio, and that Jones very probably had a hand in them being there. Inside Wilton House are two fine state rooms, designed by Inigo Jones; the Single-cube Room and the Double-cube Room. The Double-cube room echoes the early Baroque interiors of France that Inigo Jones would have seen on his travels. The carving and painted ceiling in this room can seem rather clumsy and heavy (I think it was the 18th century architect William Cambers who likened the fruits in the carvings of the Double-cube Room to turnips), especially when compared to the work of artist later in the seventeenth century, but the room is no less pioneering for that. Of particular influence to later architects was the coved ceiling, which was another Jones introduction. Without the coving the room would have seemed rather lofty and may have detracted from the Van Dyke paintings set into panels on the walls, which the room was designed to show off.
|The Double-cube room at Wilton|
|elevation of the Double-cube room showing construction of coving|
|The rich decoration of the Double-cube room at Wilton|
|The Single-cube room at Wilton|
Inigo Jones died in 1652, passing the classical baton on to Webb (along with his vast collection of drawings by Palladio and others). There are a handful of other architects who admired the work of Jones and followed the classical style he introduced, but these were built mostly after the Restoration, when Charles II returned to the throne, so we will look at these buildings in another post a little later.
Thanks to Jones the antique architecture of Rome had arrived in England. During the restoration, Baroque became a more fashionable style in which to build, as we shall see, but Classical architecture, and particularly Palladianism hadn’t finished in England yet, in fact it was only just beginning!