The Palace of Whitehall: The Charing Cross Side
Engravingpublished 25 August 1749
About the work
If architect Inigo Jones had been given the go-ahead, this immense 17th-century palace would have dominated Whitehall. The proposed palace was designed in a classical style, based on the work of Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). The plans incorporated a Banqueting House, also designed by Jones and built for King James I in 1619, which remains a feature of Whitehall today.
King Charles I intended to rebuild Whitehall Palace and create a building that would outshine the impressive Escorial palace, near Madrid, built by Philip II of Spain. Jones created the first set of designs for Whitehall in about 1638, as the issue of how to raise the necessary funds was under consideration. These prints are based on a drawing by John Webb, the clerk and draughtsman to Jones, and represent Jones’s designs. However, sufficient funding was never found for the project and only the Banqueting House was built.
Architect and collector Richard Boyle, third Earl of Burlington was greatly inspired by Palladio, Jones and Webb, and owned a collection of architectural drawings by all three architects. Burlington wrote ‘The Designs of Inigo Jones’, in which many of the drawings, including this example, were reproduced.
About the artist
Architect and designer Inigo Jones was born in London; the son of a cloth-worker. He first visited Italy in c.1600, where he purchased a copy of Palladio’s ‘Quattro Libri dell’Architettura’. After returning to London in 1605 he was employed to design costumes and sets for Royal masques. In 1611 Prince Henry also employed him as Head of his Offices of Works. In 1614 Jones began a year-long trip through Italy with the Earl of Arundel, resuming his studies in Italian architecture. On his return he was made Surveyor of the King’s Works, responsible for maintaining the King’s palaces and designing and overseeing the construction of new buildings. Today he his is best-known for the Queen's House, Greenwich (1616-40), and the Banqueting House.
John Webb was born in Smithfield London. Webb became clerk and draughtsman to Inigo Jones at a young age, living with him from the age of about 17. On Jones’s death in 1652, Webb and his wife inherited the architect’s books, drawings and a sum of money, and Webb went on to establish himself as an architect in his own right.