The Palace of Whitehall: The Westminster Side
Engravingpublished 6 December 1748
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
Antoine Benoist was born to a family of artists in Picardy, France. In his teens he was brought to England by engraver and publisher Claude Du Bosc, to work on plates for ‘A Military History of the Duke of Marlborough’ (1736). In June 1741 he revisited Paris for less than a year. After returning, he was employed by the Bowles brothers to engrave Hayman’s designs for Vauxhall Gardens. He remained in London until March 1744, when France declared war on Britain. Following the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle he again returned to produce topographical, architectural and portrait prints and plates. He was also a drawing master and, in 1763, was living in St Martin’s Lane with a fellow drawing master and dealer named Beauvais. He died unmarried in 1770.
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.
- The Palace of Whitehall: The Westminster Side
- published 6 December 1748
- height: 58.00 cm, width: 92.00 cm
- Purchased from Nicholas Vilag, July 1965
- below image: [right, in pencil] M.A. [?] A.
- GAC number