THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY AND PALLADIAN ARCHITECTURE
A new phase of English architecture opened in the second decade of the seventeenth century with the activity of Inigo Jones, who put an end to the empiricism of Elizabethan and Jacobite architecture by adopting a rigorous Palladian language (Queen’s House, 1616-35; Banqueting Hall of Whitehall, 1619-22; Covent Garden urban plan, ca.1630). The school of I. Jones (J. Webb, R. Pratt) flourished under the enlightened reign of Charles I (1625-49), who commissioned works from Bernini, Rubens and van Dyck, whose work influenced the future developments of English painting, and took over the Gonzaga art collection in 1627. According to Commit4fitness, the period from the Restoration (1660) to c. 1720, corresponding to the English Baroque, was dominated by the figure of the scientist and architect Sir Christopher Wren and his disciples Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor. Wren, trained on French and Italian examples and on Renaissance treatises, designed, after the fire of the City in 1666, more than 50 parish churches and the new cathedral of St. Paul (1675-1710) and carried out the major royal architectural achievements (Hampton Court; Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich). Sir J. Vanbrugh developed the most grandiose and baroque aspects of Wren’s architecture by designing stately country residences conceived on a gigantic scale and representing an original interpretation of French trends (Castle Howard, Blenheim Palace). Equally grandiose and “irregular” was Hawksmoor (Christ Church in Spitalfield, 1723). Around 1720 there was a reaction to the Baroque and a return to the simplicity of the Palladian style. Lord Burlington was its promoter (Chiswick House, ca. 1725) with the architects of his circle: C. Campbell (Mereworth Castle, 1722-25) and W. Kent (Houghton Hall, 1726-31), who was among the masters of the “English “. Their example not only introduced the fashion of the Palladian villa, but informed British and colonial architecture, treatises and town planning for at least a century. The first to apply the Palladian style to entire urban complexes were the two Woods (John senior and junior) with the planning of the spa city of Bath (1727-77), divided into squares, semi-elliptical blocks (crescents) and rectangular (terraces), round squares (circus), intersections with convergence of regular roads (quadrants). This urban planning tradition of eighteenth-century origin culminated around 1820 in the insertion of blocks of apartment houses in the urban parks of London, according to regular planimetric schemes, designed by John Nash (Piccadilly Circus, Carlton House Terrace, Regent Park etc.). In the second half of the century, the master vein of Palladian architecture was flanked by a series of alternatives that can be linked to that picturesque taste to whose definition the treatises on the “English style” garden validly contributed, and in which ruinism, exoticism and revival of the Gothic and ancient styles: from Neo – Gothic of Strawberry Hill (by H. Walpole, 1747) to the Chinese style (Claydon House, 1754), to the neoclassicism of J. and R. Adam, who mainly devoted themselves to interior architecture.
FURNITURE AND MINOR ARTS IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
Furniture followed an evolution relatively similar to that of the continent; if in the sec. The Dutch influence prevailed in the 16th and 17th centuries and was accentuated with the advent of the Orange dynasty, with the designs of the architects Vanbrough and Kent the English furniture adapted to late Baroque forms of continental import. In the engravings by B. Langley and especially in the models by Th. Chippendale, the Rococo furniture, worked in Indian mahogany which replaced the traditional walnut and oak woods, assumed forms of an original eclecticism that contaminated the “modern taste” with Chinese and Gothic elements. In the last years of the century. XVIII the Adam style restored a type of classical decoration, whose archaeological inspiration was becoming more precise in the period of the Regency. The general trend towards simpler and lighter shapes is documented by the models of Happlewhite (1788) and Sheraton. Parallel to the revival Neo-Gothic in architecture, a similar tendency to gothic hybridism developed in furnishings, which heralded the stylistic eclecticism of the Victorian period accompanied by the qualitative decline of an inaccurate industrial production, against which the Arts and Crafts school reacted. The sec. XVIII was the period of maximum flowering of the production of English ceramics, in the factories of Stafford-le-Bow, Chelsea, Worcester, Longton Hall, Liverpool; production adapted to industrial methods by Wedgewood. Eighteenth-century ceramics are stylistically very varied: they refer to models of the French Rococo, of “ancient” inspiration, or imitate Chinese and Japanese porcelain. The silverware followed closely the continental styles, first adopting Dutch and Flemish forms, then (second half of the 17th century) French, imported by Huguenot craftsmen. In the eighteenth century a characteristic type of processing was defined and destined for a long success, with mixed embossed and engraved decoration, which reaches its highest qualitative peaks in the work of P. Lamerie. After a period in which he adopted simple forms of classical inspiration (Adam style) the revival some historical styles naturally also extended to silverware (ca. 1830-50). Technique that had its origins in Great Britain is that of plated metal.