Georgian architecture

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Georgian architecture

Georgian architecture: It includes several trends in English architecture that were predominant during the reigns (1714–1830) of George I, George II, George III, and George IV. The first half of the period (c.1710–c.1760) was dominated by Neo-Palladianism (see Palladio). Colin Campbell, with his first publication of the Vitruvius Britannicus in 1715, inspired the patron-architect Richard Boyle, earl of Burlington, and his protégé, William Kent, to return to a classicizing form of architecture, based on the works of Inigo Jones and Palladio. Campbell's Mereworth Castle, Kent (1723), is an outstanding example of this style. Another exponent of Palladian theory was Giacomo Leoni (1688–1746), who published an edition of the Architecture of A. Palladio in Four Books (c.1716–c.1720). The Palladian tradition exerted an obvious and powerful influence throughout the Georgian period both in England and America. During the first half of the 18th cent. there was a countercurrent of baroque architecture stemming from buildings by Sir Christopher Wren and carried on by Sir John Vanbrugh, Nicholas Hawksmoor, and James Gibbs. From the second half of the 18th cent. new archaeological discoveries in Greece and Italy led architects to draw freely from antiquity and other sources (see classic revival). Neoclassicism had for its principal exponents Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam, George Dance II, and Sir John Soane. A vast increase in population and the birth of industrialism brought an increasing demand for formal mansions for the aristocracy and for dwelling houses for the middle classes. A purely English type of dwelling, somewhat standardized as to plan and materials, was produced for the needs of town and country. The use of brick had become common under William of Orange (William III), as an element of Dutch influence. The red brick house, with courses and cornices of white stone and trimmings of white painted woodwork, is what is popularly termed the Georgian style. New types of public, commercial, civic, and governmental architecture arose, examples of which are Queensberry House by Giacomo Leoni; the Old Admiralty, Whitehall, by Thomas Ripley; the treasury and Horse Guards buildings, by William Kent; Somerset House, by Sir William Chambers; the Bank of England, by Sir John Soane; and monumental street groupings, such as those by John Wood and his son at Bath and by the Adam brothers in London. Among notable churches are St. Martin-in-the-Fields and St. Mary-le-Strand, both by James Gibbs; other important architects of the period were James Gandon and Henry Holland. American buildings and arts of the period, which closely resemble their English prototypes, are also usually designated as Georgian.

See J. Harris, Georgian Country Houses (1968); J. Summerson, Architecture in Britain 1530–1830 (3d ed. 1958) and Georgian London (1962, repr. 1970).

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