James Wyatt, 1746-1813: Architect to George III

Overview

James Wyatt (1746–1813) is widely recognized as the most celebrated and prolific English architect of the 18th century. At the start of his lengthy career, Wyatt worked on designs for the Oxford Street Pantheon's neo-Classical interior as well as Dodington, the Graeco-Roman house that served as the model for the Regency country house. Wyatt was the first truly eclectic and historicist architect, employing several versions of Classical and Gothic styles with great facility while also experimenting in Egyptian, ...

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Overview

James Wyatt (1746–1813) is widely recognized as the most celebrated and prolific English architect of the 18th century. At the start of his lengthy career, Wyatt worked on designs for the Oxford Street Pantheon's neo-Classical interior as well as Dodington, the Graeco-Roman house that served as the model for the Regency country house. Wyatt was the first truly eclectic and historicist architect, employing several versions of Classical and Gothic styles with great facility while also experimenting in Egyptian, Tudor, Turkish, and Saxon modes. His pioneering Modern Gothic marked him as an innovator, and his unique neo-Classical designs were influenced by his links with the Midlands Industrial Revolution and his Grand Tour education.

This groundbreaking book sheds new light on modern architectural and design history by interweaving studies of Wyatt's most famous works with his fascinating life narrative. This masterly presentation covers the complex connections formed by his web of wealthy patrons and his influence on both his contemporaries and successors.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Robinson, a British architectural historian, tells in almost obsessive detail the story of the colorful life and innovative, elegant work of this prolific, controversial 18th-century architect. According to Robinson, Wyatt "pioneered ‘Modern Gothic' as a major aspect of English architectural output and one that was to become increasingly significant in the course of the nineteenth century." Despite Wyatt's celebrity among his contemporaries, his 45-year career, and his enormous output, he left little documentation of his work or life, and some of his major buildings, including the stunning Pantheon, no longer exist. Robinson exploited contemporary references, as well as research by Frances Fergusson, to build this portrait of Wyatt and his work, often depending on "the echoes of his views in other people's gossip," a source that also adds a lively sense of the era, as well as of Wyatt's propensity to both charm and infuriate, which together are sources of his life's "trajectory from early brilliance, achievement and unparalleled success" to "his posthumous reputation as a drunk, a habitual absentee, a womanizer, and a financial incompetent." Amateur architecture buffs will enjoy the generous, handsome illustrations and Robinson's insightful analysis of Wyatt's style and influence on 18th- and 19th-century English and Irish architecture, but the main readership for this massive, heavily researched biography is likely to be architecture students and historians. Illus. (Sept.) H Saul Steinberg: A Biography Deirdre Bair Doubleday/Talese, (752p) ISBN 978-0-385-52448-3 The pre-eminent New Yorker cartoonist, creator of the famously self-obsessed Manhattan map that squeezes the unimportant remainder of the planet into the margins, leads a life worthy of his own ironic art in this scintillating biography. National Book Award winner Bair (Samuel Beckett: A Biography) chronicles Steinberg's career as the "‘Picasso of the art form known as the doodle'" whose work made the adjective "Steinbergian" a by-word for an off-kilter blend of visual satire and philosophical complexity. Steinberg emerges as a tangle of neurotic contradictions: a wildly successful commercial artist with insecure longings for high-brow cachet; a disaffected immigrant son who was also the financial mainstay of his grasping family; a European modernist with an abiding love for Americana; a callous philanderer who remained a stalwart provider to a string of melodramatic women. Bair's long and amply researched biography unfolds in a graceful prose that's stocked with absurdist scenes—hastily inducted into the Navy as a propaganda officer, Steinberg was baffled by the salutes he received—and colorful characters, led by Steinberg's hilariously domineering mother, Rosa, the archetype of similar figures in his art and relationships. But much like one of her subject's caricatures, Bair's breezy writing works subtly and slyly to unearth psychological depths beneath the amusing surface of the Steinbergian picaresque. Photos. Agent: Kris Dahl, ICM Talent. (Nov.)
Apollo Magazine
"As well as examining Wyatt's complex web of wealthy patrons, the book traces his influence both on contemporaries (such as his great rival John Adam) and those who followed him, shedding new light on modern architectural and design history."—Apollo Magazine
Country Life

"A long-overdue and beautifully produced book that sets James Wyatt in his rightful place at the front of Georgian architecture… This dazzlingly beautiful book changes our entire picture of Georgian architecture."—David Watkins, Country Life

— David Watkins

The Times

"John Martin Robinson's masterly and hugely enjoyable book shows off the astonishing range of Wyatt's work as never before, compositions on the grand scale, small pretty villas and page after page of ravishingly lovely interiors."—Marcus Binney, The Times

— Marcus Binney

Country Life - David Watkins
"A long-overdue and beautifully produced book that sets James Wyatt in his rightful place at the front of Georgian architecture… This dazzlingly beautiful book changes our entire picture of Georgian architecture."—David Watkins, Country Life
The Times - Marcus Binney
"John Martin Robinson's masterly and hugely enjoyable book shows off the astonishing range of Wyatt's work as never before, compositions on the grand scale, small pretty villas and page after page of ravishingly lovely interiors."—Marcus Binney, The Times
Burlington Magazine - Robin Middleton
“John Martin Robinson’s very real achievement must be recognised; his study is of major importance in establishing the full range of Wyatt’s career and will remain the standard reference for many years to come.”—Robin Middleton, Burlington Magazine
Historians of British Art - Historians of British Art Book Prize
Short-listed for the 2013 Historians of British Art Book Prize for the Pre-1800 category.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

John Martin Robinson is an independent architectural historian. He is a partner in Historic Buildings Consultants, Librarian to the Duke of Norfolk, Maltravers Herald Extraordinary and Vice Chairman of the Georgian Group. He is a regular architectural contributor to Country Life and the author of numerous books.

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