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Inigo Jones and the Classical Language of Architecture

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Inigo Jones and the Classical Language of Architecture Classical architecture elements can be traced from early Greek and Roman styles. Classici refer to the highest rank of Roman social structure. Classical norms are based on a formal hierarchal system of clarity, symmetry, deceptive simplicity, harmonious proportion and completeness. (Curl, 12) There is a difference seen between the inside and the outside of a building. Classical architecture develops every part individually as these parts become a larger whole.

Orders, or columns, play an important role in the development of classical architecture.The parts of the order include a pedestal, but not always, a column and some type of horizontal element above the column.

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Within the structure of orders a composition pattern and proportional system develop. Although Greek and Italian architecture used the name Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders there were distinct differences between the appearances of the columns. In classical architecture a Doric order is slender, usually with a base and a smooth shaft. One can see an elegant molded base on Ionic orders. Ionic orders also have fluted shafts and some type of cornice ornamentation.

The Corinthian order is the most elaborate and may have engaged columns that are partially attached to a wall. Many of the classical orders are straight lines meeting at right angles with an equal distance between orders creating a piece with equal parts. There is symmetry from left to right and right to left that is not seen when looking top to bottom and bottom to top. (Tzonis 9) Inigo Jones is regarded as the first significant English classical architect. Jones combined his personality and understanding of classical architecture in his designs.His admiration of Italian architects and architecture is evident as many of his designs look more like Italian villas than traditional English buildings. Jones pursued his building projects to further his own political and personal interests.

(Anderson 41) One of Inigo Jones’ first projects was building a stable, brewhouse and doghouse for King James at his royal hunting site. The Queen’s House, Queen’s Chapel and the Banqueting House are some of Inigo Jones works that are still standing. Other Jones designs include Covent Garden and Wilton House.The Queen’s House, once named the House of Delight, was built in Greenwich. The house looks like two Italian palaces facing one another connected by a narrow passage lined with equally spaced orders on each side. The orders appear to be Doric because of the simple base and smooth shaft. The exterior sides of the building show the classical norm of being symmetrical left to right and right to left.

Following classical lines there is no up and down symmetry having one arched window on the second story. The wall facing south also has a center second floor balcony with orders.Materials used on the outside vary from floor to floor. Brick and stone work were used for the first floor while the second story walls are plastered and limewashed. Inside the main halls are shaped like a cube with flat ceilings. Surrounding rooms are symmetrical with cornice work showing an Italian influence with very ornate chimney sculptures. Orazio Gentileschi’s canvases originally filled the ceilings of the house.

The Duchess of Marlborough had them taken down and brought to Marlborough House. (Lees-Milne 70) The Banqueting House is regarded by many as Jones’ masterpiece.Jones was commissioned to re-build the structure after a fire destroyed the original building. Jones based his design on Venetian palaces so Banqueting House would stand apart. The outside gives the appearance of a multi-story building. Two cherubs support a large shield in the pediment which was intended to contain a coat of arms. (Anderson 157) Ionic and engaged Corinthian orders are used.

The orders on the exterior side walls combine flat and rounded columns with a pair of coupled pilasters at the end of each facade. Exterior street facade show the classical element of symmetry matching left to right and right to left.One can view the differences from top to bottom and bottom to top. Lower window tops alternate rounded and pointed where upper windows are all flat topped. Each window and order section is a separate design but is also part of the complete building. The interior of the Banqueting House is not multi-storied but a single double cube room. The space has Ionic orders under and Corinthian orders over a cantilevered gallery.

(Summerson 53) The flat ceiling is covered with Ruben panels. The Banqueting House is still in use today for concerts, government function and private parties.Inigo Jones was picked to design a new Chapel at St. James Palace. The Queen’s Chapel is a double cube hall with a coffered ceiling that has an adjoining Queen’s Closet. There is a triple window rising behind the altar. The center rounded window rises higher than the two flanking windows and is topped with carved angels and falling garlands.

The Queen’s Closet is a gallery separated from the chapel by Corinthian pilasters and festoons. The Closet chimney piece and over mantel portrays classical Italian interior decoration. Harris and Higgott 184) The front exterior of the building is done with Portland-stone masonry. Side to side symmetry is present but there are no orders in the design. Wilton House is another Inigo Jones design. The main front dimension ratio is almost identical to his design for the Prince’s Lodging but on a larger scale. Wilton’s south front has side to side symmetry.

The grand portico is in keeping with the classical association of royalty. Ionic orders are in front of the portico’s central Serlian windows which are surrounded with carved figures. There are corner towers and balustrades.The main interior room is a double-cube. Very ornate moldings, carvings and ceilings are present. Wilton House is one case where symmetry is not followed. The fireplace is not central on the main wall but gives the illusion that symmetry is maintained.

(Lees-Milne 102) There are matching king’s and queen’s apartments for royalty use. Wilton House seemed out of place surrounded by smaller houses. This building provided Jones a bridge between his smaller and grander royal works. (Worsley 82) The Covent Garden project by Inigo included a new church, houses and gates leading to the square.Simple and classical Tuscan design variations were used in the arcade surrounding the houses. The entrance to the square is a false doorway and the church is entered through an enclosed yard. Classical architecture was used to update homes.

Jones’ drawings show the use of banded columns and smooth columns against a rusticated wall. (Anderson 206) Jones designed a Tuscan portico on the east end of St. Paul’s church comprised of two central columns flanked by piers attached to a sidewall with arched openings. The Tuscan order throughout Covent Garden brought bout simplicity for urban life. As an architect Inigo Jones gave England a classical, innovative style using his love of Italy and Italian design. His use of orders was based on the specific function of the building, the context in which it was to be built and his own interpretation. (Anderson 208) Jones wanted his identity as an architect to be defined by The Banqueting House and St.

Paul’s Cathedral. (Anderson 25)Works Cited Anderson, Christy. Inigo Jones and the Classical Tradition. New York, Cambridge University Press, 2007. Curl, James. Classical Architecture. New York, Van Nostrand Reinhold,1992.

Harris, John and Higgott, Gordon. Inigo Jones Complete Architectural Drawings. London, A. Zwemmer Ltd, 1989. Lees-Milne, James. The Age of Inigo Jones. London, B.

T. Batsford Ltd. , 1953. Summerson, John. Inigo Jones. Middlesex, Penguin Books Ltd. , 1966.

Tzonis, Alexander and Lefaivre, Liane. Classical Architecture the Poetics of Order. Cambridge, MIT Press, 19986. Worsley, Giles. Inigo Jones and the European Classicist Tradtion. New Have, Yale University Press, 2007.

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