This view shows the eastern façade of the proposed Palace of Whitehall, which is inspired by the work of Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). Although based on a drawing by John Webb (1611-1672), clerk and draughtsman to architect Inigo Jones, this print represents Jones’s design for the palace. The plans incorporated the Banqueting House, designed by Jones and built for James I in 1619, which survives today.
Charles I intended to rebuild the then existing Whitehall Palace (destroyed by fire, 1698) to outshine Philip II’s Escorial, near Madrid. Jones created the first set of designs in c.1638. However, sufficient funding was never found. Architect and collector Richard Boyle, third Earl of Burlington (1694-1753), was greatly inspired by Jones, Palladio and Webb and owned a collection of architectural drawings by all three architects. Burlington authored ‘The Designs of Inigo Jones’, in which many of his Whitehall drawings, including this example, were reproduced. He entrusted painter and interior designer William Kent (c.1686-1748) with editing the publication, which appeared in 1727. The task encouraged Kent to become a classical ‘Palladian’ architect himself.
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.
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