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Inigo Jones and Palladio: Queen’s House, Greenwich

In Week 3 we turned to the Renaissance, Mannerism and the Baroque. We looked at the Queen’s House in Greenwich, designed in 1618 by Inigo Jones but not completed until 1635. After looking at how Jones took inspiration from visits to Renaissance Italy, and particularly the work of Andrea Palladio, we were asked to look at the architectural features of Queen’s House and comment on elements Jones had clearly taken from Palladio’s work, and how he might be said to have deviated from it.

The south front of the Queen’s House, Greenwich

What struck me when looking at the Queen’s House was that, at first glance, how less three-dimensional it appears than many of Palladio’s porticoed villas on the Veneto. However, looking more closely at features of the south front of the Queen’s House (above), Palladio’s influence becomes clearer, with the inclusion of a six-columned loggia and lower storey rustication.

The north facade’s (above) central bay is projected, even if only slightly, and has a semi-circular windowhead flanked by rectangular windows (though Palladio seemed to prefer a trio of semi-circular windowheads at the centre of his buildings, often with fewer rectangular windows either side).

Browsing photos of Palladio’s villas, the building I thought Queen’s House (or at least the south front) most resembles is the Villa Pisani in Montagnana:

Villa Pisani in Montagnana, south front. Image: Hans A. Rosbach (CC BY-SA 2.5)

It seems that Jones was looking to add his own refinements to his learnings from Palladio, and I think this is perhaps most evident at Queen’s House where the central string course, projecting cornice and balustraded parapet work together to give an overall effect of sharpness and under-stated sophistication (I can’t find an example of Palladio using a balustraded parapet at roof level on a country villa, though might be wrong!)

Villa Pisani in Montagnana, north front. Image: Hans A. Rosbach (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Interior of the Banqueting House, Whitehall (360 view)

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