An Italian sculptor and stonemason, who developed into one of the most influential figures in Renaissance and Classicism architecture. Taking motivation from the ancient buildings in Rome, Palladio concentrated on the laws of proportion, symmetry and design features such as columns, arches and domes. One his most famous, and subsequently his last, buildings was ‘Villa la Rotonda’ outside of Vincenza, Italy. This building hosts some of the most crucial characteristics of Palladian architecture, including the 50 foot high dome, the six identical columns and white painted brick exterior.
There was always evenness and geometry within Palladio’s work, as is seen on the plans of Villa la Rotanda, as it fits perfectly over a grid of squares. There is order and mathematical symmetry. The interior was far more bold than the simplistic colour and order of the outside facade. Majestic and imposing artwork adorned the walls and frescos, seen here within the dome. When standing in the dome there is an alignment with the view of the surrounding landscape and you are able to look north, east, south and west. Described as a “humanistic view of man at the centre of an unlimited universe” this building and Palladio’s architecture focuses on classism, order and balance. This style was ideal for a Protestant Britain in the early 1700s, and the revival was born with Palladio’s influence reaching far and wide.
The Georgina era was separated by the reigns of George I (1714 – 1727) and then George II (1727 – 1760). This period of time underwent vast change and advancement within society. It was the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, there was the foundation of class divisions and continuing polarization in government and rival parties (Whigs and Tories). The union of England and Scotland brought about a sense of British patriotism seen with the creation of the anthem Rule Britannia. The beginning of a transportation system occurred and small communities developed into larger towns and cities. Architecture was established as a trained profession, and the expanding towns resulted in rows and rows of identical housing.
During the early Georgian period, Palladian architecture and style dominated British design with a clear influence of Italian reference. The attitudes and fashions of society was persuaded by classic art, architecture and literature. These motivations shaped the social class system within Britain, as the elite demonstrated their wealth and power through their architecture and interior design.
A Scottish lawyer and architect who drew greatly on the influence of Palladian style. Amongst Campbell’s work was the literature “Vitruvius Britannicus’, a tribute to the writing of Roman architectural author Vitruvius. Mereworth Castle (1723) is evidence of the guidance Campbell took from Palladian architecture, with the square block and shapes, the identical proportions and central dome. Campbell also design Shawfield House (1713), one of the earliest Palladian houses in Britain, which was an exact copy of Villa Capra.
The Great House of Chiswick (1725) was designed by Richard Boyle and was inspired by Lord Burlington’s tours of Italy and the classical architecture of Palladian style. A grand space focused on proportion, symmetry and regularity, this building was decorated with splendid interiors, intricate ornamentation, detailed paintings and elegant plaster work. Burlington was a great art collector and displayed many of his works within The Great house of Chiswick, with the design and style complementing the beauty of the art work.
Marble Hill House was another example of Palladian inspired architecture. Built between 1724 and 1729 as a home for Henrietta Howard, the mistress of George II (at the time Prince of Wales), it demonstrated the precision and mathematical design techniques used with magnificent and impressive interiors.
After attending the Grand Tour of Europe, Kent returned to Britain with inspirations and influences from his travels that he employed into his work. Kent was one of the first to begin including the decoration of the interior into his work, drawing attention to picture frames, fireplaces and furnishings within his drawings and designs. There was a hint of Palladian nostalgia and brilliance in his work, seen in the state rooms of Kensington Place that he painted.
Interiors of this era were graceful, refined and distinguished. With the separation of class in society, the ‘upper class’ took incentive from foreign countries and lavishly decorated the interior of their homes with elegant yet outstanding designs and styles. With the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution in play, there was the introduction of dying techniques and mass production, meaning wallpapers could be created at high speed and popular pottery pieces like vases or urns could showcase ornamental and elaborate imagery.
Interiors had minimal clutter, but instead fixated on unique and admirable pieces, such as gilt carved furniture, sculptures, motifs of swags, garlands and ribbons. There a was emphasis on the moulding and rich architectural details of buildings, walls were now painted in solid colours or there were artist portrayals of roman gods and goddesses. Within furniture design the practical drop leaf table was introduced, and mahogany became the wood of choice, replacing walnut. It was a more robust, long-lasting material with anti infestation properties and resistance to wear and tear such as scratches.