Collecting Palladio

Inigo Jones acquires the drawings

 

Palazzo Valmarana, Vicenza: elevation and section

Palazzo Valmarana, Vicenza: elevation and section Enlarge image

Palazzo Valmarana, Vicenza: elevation and section
Andrea Palladio
RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collection

Palazzo Valmarana, Vicenza: sketches of statues and capitals

Palazzo Valmarana, Vicenza: sketches of statues and capitals Enlarge image

Palazzo Valmarana, Vicenza: sketches of statues and capitals
Inigo Jones
RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collection

Just how Inigo Jones acquired his extensive collection of drawings by Palladio is not known for certain.

A small number were given to him by Sir Henry Wotton. However, most came directly from Italy, acquired on a Grand Tour which he took as a companion to the Earl of Arundel in 1613-1614.

Previous owners had included Palladio's son, Silla Palladio, and Scamozzi, who had succeeded Palladio as the leading architect in the Veneto. Clearly, Jones understood the importance of the drawings.

Jones's collection of Palladio's drawings included:

  • design drawings for villas, palaces and churches
  • preliminary drawings for woodcuts in I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura
  • drawings and reconstructions of Roman buildings

Jones used the drawings to understand Palladio's buildings. His copy of I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura survives to this day at Worcester College, Oxford, its pages scrawled with Jones's notes, sketches, and corrections.

The drawings allowed Jones to acquire an intimate knowledge of Palladio's architecture, as can be seen in this drawing of the Palazzo Valmarana. On the one side is Palladio's drawing for a plate for I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura. Yet thick, dark lines seep through; leaves can be made out, even a ghostly figure on the right.

This strange effect can be explained by ownership. Inigo Jones drew directly on the back of Palladio's drawing while making revisions studying the building as he focused on the sculptural details of the capitals.

On his return to England, Jones was appointed Surveyor of the King's Works, the most powerful architectural post in the country. He used his great influence to develop a new form of English classical architecture.