Collecting Palladio

Lord Burlington

 

Tottenham Park, Wiltshire: elevation of the kitchen block entrance facade, for Charles, Lord Bruce

Tottenham Park, Wiltshire: elevation of the kitchen block entrance facade, for Charles, Lord Bruce Enlarge image

Tottenham Park, Wiltshire: elevation of the kitchen block entrance facade, for Charles, Lord Bruce
Lord Burlington
RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collection

Design for Villa Valmarana, Vigardolo: elevation and plan

Design for Villa Valmarana, Vigardolo: elevation and plan Enlarge image

Design for Villa Valmarana, Vigardolo: elevation and plan
Andrea Palladio
RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collection

Visiting Italy in 1719 to look at Palladio's buildings, it seems Lord Burlington bought seven volumes of Palladio's drawings in Venice. According to tradition these had been found in a trunk at the Villa Barbaro at Maser, where Palladio had died in 1580.

On his return to Britain, Burlington bought a second collection; on 7 April, 1720 his accountant noted:

"To Mr Talmann … for a Parcel of Architectonicall Designs and Drawings by Palladio £170". A month later he paid Talman for drawings by Inigo Jones.

The first collection featured measured drawings and reconstructions of Roman buildings. This second collection comprised design drawings and studies for I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura.

Burlington was determined that Palladio's ideas should hold sway in fashionable society. He rooted his understanding in Palladio's drawings. His design for the kitchen-block façade, Tottenham Park, Wiltshire, is an excellent example of how Palladio's drawings were directly sourced.

This drawing is surprisingly simple. Decoration and sculpture have been rejected. Effect is gained instead from line and proportion, most obviously with the strong diagonals of the pediment-like roof. A play with recession and shadow adds further interest: the steps jut out, leading into a porch with recessed doorway and thermal window; above, the broken pediment stands proud of the façade.

Burlington has learned from Palladio. The kitchen-block is based on a preparatory drawing for the Villa Valmarana, albeit simplified. This, after all, is a domestic building. The central entrance is narrowed and gone are the Palladian decorated window surrounds. Nevertheless, Palladio's principles are at the heart of Burlington's design.