Vitruvius Britannicus: The Classic of Eighteenth-Century British Architecture
  • Vitruvius Britannicus: The Classic of Eighteenth-Century British Architecture
  • Vitruvius Britannicus: The Classic of Eighteenth-Century British Architecture

Vitruvius Britannicus: The Classic of Eighteenth-Century British Architecture

by Colen Campbell

A consortium of British architects and their patrons rebelled against the early eighteenth century's Baroque excesses and turned instead toward the Renaissance works of Andrea Palladio for inspiration. These Neo-Palladians guided the course of British architecture toward classical principles, and the Vitruvius Britannicus (British Vitruvius) reflects theirSee more details below


A consortium of British architects and their patrons rebelled against the early eighteenth century's Baroque excesses and turned instead toward the Renaissance works of Andrea Palladio for inspiration. These Neo-Palladians guided the course of British architecture toward classical principles, and the Vitruvius Britannicus (British Vitruvius) reflects their vision. A sumptuous collection of magnificent copperplate engravings, it depicts great English country houses and public buildings.
Published between 1715 and 1725 in a three-folio set, the Vitruvius Britannicus documents in meticulous detail many of the buildings from the previous two centuries. Its 300 illustrations include facades, ground plans, exterior elevations, and perspective views. Featured buildings include those designed by Inigo Jones, the seventeenth-century architect who introduced Palladianism to England; the work of Sir John Vanbrugh, whose innovative Classical-Revival architecture retained a Baroque flair; and contemporary designs, including those of the author, Scottish architect Colen Campbell.
The popularity of this volume fostered the development of the Neo-Palladian movement, and Vitruvius Britannicus continues to influence architects and designers. Handsome and modestly priced, this new edition is an essential complement to any design library.

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Vitruvius Britannicus

The Classic of Eighteenth-Century British Architecture

By Colen Campbell

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-13945-6


PLATES IN The First Volume.

S. Paul's Church, London, p. 3, 4.

THIS Noble Fabrick was begun by Sir Christopher Wren, Anno 1672, and happily finished by him, 1710. I have made two Plates, the Plan and Weft Front; and did intend the Section, but was prevented by the Architect, who proposed to publish it himself. I have omitted the Rusticks and fluting the Columns in both Orders, to avoid the Confusion of so many Lines in so small a Scale.. Here is a Rustick Bafement that carries two entire Orders, the first is Corinthian, 4 Foot in Diameter, with a plain Entablature; there is an Arcade all round the Building, that serves for Lights: The second Order is Composite, proportionably diminished with regard to the Inferior; here a very rich Tabernacle reigns throughout the whole Inter-Columnations, very like that excellent Model in the Rotundo at Rome, but with this difference, that in this the Pedestal is pierced, to give Light. A more particular Account is to be taken from the Design by the Scale and Compafs, which would be too tedious in this Introduction. The whole Fabrick is performed in Stone, by those excellent and judicious Artists, Mr. Edward Strong, Senior and Junior, whose consummate Knowledge in their Profession, has greatly contributed to adorn the Kingdom; and it's beyond Exception, that this is the second Church in the World.

S. Peter's at Rome, p. 5, 6, 7.

I Thought it would not be improper to present the Curious with the Plan, Elevation, and Section of this Majectick Building; and the more that I dare sasely aver, that it's the most correct, with respect to the Truth of Architecture, or Cleanners of Engraving, that was ever published; and the Reader may have the Satisfaction to view both, reduced to British Measure. The Criticks generally condemn the excessive Height of the Attick, which they confine to a third of the inferiour Column. That the Pediment, supported by a Tetrastyle, is mean for so great a Front, which at least would demand an Hexastyle; that the Breaks are trifling, and the Parts without any Proportion; that the great Body of the Church, projected byCarlo Maderno, has extreamly injured the August Appearance of theCupola, which is very much lost by being removed so far from the East Front, contrary to Michael Angelo's Design, who conformed the whole Plan to a Square, wherein he described a Grecian Cross. But all agree, that the Width is noble, and the Cupola admirable: It was begun Anno 1513, and finished 1640.

A new Design for a Church in Lincolns-Inn Fields, p. 8, 9.

THIS Design I made, at the Desire of some Per. sons of Quality and Distinction, when it was proposed to have a Church in the Noble Square. The Plan is reduced to a Square and Circle in the Middle, which, in my weak Opinion, are the most perfect Figures. In the Front I have removed the Angular Towers, at such a distance, that the great Cupola is without any Ambarass: Here is a regular Hexastyle that commands the Front, which, with the other Parts, are all in certain Measures of Proportion. I have introduced but one single Corinthian Order, supported by a full Bafement, and finished with an Attick and Ballustrade. The Cupola is adorned with a single Colonade of detached Columns; the whole is dress'd very plain, as most proper for the sulphurous Air of the City, and, indeed, most conformable to the Simplicity of the Ancients. Done Anno 1712.

S. Philip's Church at Birmingham, p. 10, 11.

THIS Church is designed by the ingenious Mr. Archer; and is justly esteemed a very beautiful Structure. Anno 1710.

The Banquetting House at Whitehall, p. 12, 13.

THIS incomparable Piece was designed by the immortal Jones, as one Pavilion for that admirable Model he gave for a Royal Palace; and if this Specimen has justly commanded the Admiration of Mankind, what must the finished Pile have produced? I hope Britain will still have the Glory to acomplish it, which will as far exceed all the Palaces of the Universe, as the Valour of our Troops and Conduct of our Generals have surpassed all others. Here our excellent Architect has introduced Strength with Politeness, Ornament with Simplicity, Beauty with Majesty: It is, without Dispute, the first Room in the World, and was built Anno 1616.

The Queen's House at Greenwich, p. 14, 15.

THIS is by the fame Architect, and was a Place of Retirement for the Queen-Mother. I have made two Plates: The Plan is near a Square, being 116 Foot by 120 the Proportion of the Rooms are extream just; and the great Hall is admirable, making an exact Cube of 40 Foot. In the Front is a noble Rustick Basement, which supports a beautiful and regular Loggio of the Ionick Order, finished with a just Entablature and Ballustrade round the whole Building, which was executed Anno 1639.

The Great Gallery in Somerset Gardens, p, 16.

THIS Noble Arcade was taken from a Design of Inigo Jones, but conducted by another Hand: Some object, that the great Cornice is too camuse, and that the Dress of the Windows have not Relief enough, which is only chargeable upon the Execution; but all agree, that the Proportions are just, and the Design excellent. I have neglected the Plan, being of little Use on this Occasion. It was built Anno 1662.

Gunnersbury House, near Brentford, p. 17, 18.

THIS House was executed by Mr. Webb, Disciple to Jones, from a Design of his great Master. I have made two Plates; the first is the Plan of the first and second Floor; the Apartments are noble, regular, and commodious, the Rooms well-proportioned; the second is the Front, which contains a large plain Bafement, supporting a handsome Corinthian Loggio. Some find the Inter-Columnation in this Hexastyle too open, and that to leave out the Freeze and Architrave of each side the Pediment, is a License not to be introduced without great necessity. It was built Anno 1663.

A new Design for the Duke of Argyle, p. 19, 20.

I Have inscrib'd this Design to this illustrious Name, whose great Actions have filled the World with Surprize and Admiration; Ramellies and Tanniers are immortal. And as it's my greatest Honour to receive my Blood from his August House, I thought I could no where so properly consecrate the first Essay of my Invention, as an eternal Monument of the deepest Respect and Gratitude. I have given two Plates: In the first are two Plans in a Square of 112 Foot; the Apartments of State are below, raised from the Court by 6 Steps which leads into the great Hall, making a Cube of 50 Foot, and has a Poggio within dividing the two Stories; from the Hall you enter the Salon, attended with two noble Apartments of State fronting the Gardens; all the Rooms are either upon the Square, the Diagonal, or other Proportions universally received: In the fecond Story is a large Library, an Antichamber of each side, with double Apartments; over which are Mezonins, for accommodating the Family, illuminated by low Lanterns from the Leads, whereby the Majesty of the Front is preserved from the ill Effect of crowded Apertures. The second is the Front, raised from the Plinth which supports the Rusticks, adorned with a Composite Order of Columns, with a regular Entablature and Ballustrade; the Windows are dress'd in the Palladian manner: And I have endeavoured to reconcile the Beauty of an Arcade in the ancient Buildings with the Conveniency of the Moderns, but must leave it to others to judge of the Success. Anno 1714.

The first Design for Sir Richard Child, Bar. p. 21, 22.

THIS 'was intended for Wansted, the Seat of Sir Richard Childn, in a most charming Situation, where are the noblest Gardens now in the Kingdom: 'In this I was a little confined as to the Dress of the Windows, which are without Pediments, and several other Conveniences being wanting, the following Design was preferred.

The second Design for Sir Richard Child, p. 23, to p. 27. inclusive.

THE first Plate contains the Plan of the principal Story, extended 260 Foot, raifed from the Court by a large Rustick Bafement 15 Foot in Height: The Situation requiring this Height, to afford the State-Apartments a Prospect to these excellent Gardens. You ascend from the Court by double Stairs of each side, which land in the Portico; and from thence into the great Hall, 51 Foot long, and 36 wide, and in Height the fame: This leads into the Salon, being an exact Cube of 30 Foot, attended with two noble Apartments of State, all fronting the Gardens. To the great Court are excellent Apartments for Sir Richard and my Lady, with great Conveniencies: And the whole Plan is closed with a decent Chappel in one End, and a handsome Library in the other: The Offices are below, equal to the Court, and Mezonins above. The fecond is the Front, adorned with a just Hexastyle, the first yet practised in this manner in the Kingdom: The Order is Corinthian, and the Diameter 3 Foot, with its proper Entablature and Ballustrade, adorned with Figures, and a Cupola. The third is the Section, and the fifth a Green-House, but design'd by another Hand.

A new Design inscrib'd to the Earl of Hallifax, p. 28, 29, 30,

As this Noble Lord is the distinguished Patron of A the Muses, the great Macenas of our Age, I have presumed to honour this Design with the Patronage of so great a Name, as a small Evidence of my Gratitude, who have been honoured very early with his Lordship's Countenance, by encouraging my Labours. Of this I have made two Plates; the first is the Plan of the principal Story, extending 300 Foot, and 150 deep, raifed from the Court by 6 Steps, which leads into a noble Hall, Tribune and Salon, with double Apartments of State to the Gardens: The fame Apartments are repeated to the great Court; and the whole Plan is closed with a large Gallery in one End, and a Chappel, Library, and great Stair-Cafe in the other: What is of Distinction in this Disposition, is, that the Bed-chambers are removed from interrupting the grand Visto, and still the State is preserved in entring them when necessary; which I have not yet observed in any former Defign. The fecond is the Front where a large Rustico supports a Loggio with Columns of the Corinthian Order: Here the Windows are placed at due Distance, and free from that bad Effect we so frequently fee when they are crowded, which destroys that Repose and Appearance of Strength, so necessary in Architecture. Done Anno 1715.

Burlington House in Pickadilly, with the Duke of Kent's Pavillion, p. 31, 2, 33.

THE first Plate contains the two Plans of the following Fronts: The fecond is the Front of Burlington House: The third is the said Pavilion in his Grace's Gardens in Bedfordshire. Design'd by Mr. Archer,Anno 1709.

Montague House, London, p. 34, 35, 36.

THIS great House was built by the late Duke of Montagne, in the French manner; the Apartments are very noble, and richly adorned. Here Monsieur la Fausse, Mr. Rousseau, and Mr. Baptist, have express' d the Excellence of their Art. The Architecture was conducted by Monsieur Pouget, 1678.

Drumlenrig Castle in Scotland, p. 37, 38.

Is the ancient Seat of his Grace the Duke of Queens-bury, in the Shire of Dumfrier: It was greatly adorned by the two preceding Dukes, with noble Gardens, and many other expensive Decorations.

Marlborough House, St. James's,p. 39, 40.

Is the Residence of his Grace in London; where are fine Gardens, and Prospect over St. James's Park. The Defign was given by Mr. Wren, Anno 1709.

Powis's House, London. p. 41, 42

THIS House is built with the best Portland Stone, well executed; enriched with a Corinthian Pilastrade, besides a considerable Attick and Balustrade, supported with a rustick Bafement; and was finish'd Anno 1714.

Buckingham House, p. 43, 44.

THIS is the Seat of his Grace the Duke of Backingham, in a most admirable Situation, having the noblest Avenue in Europe, the Mall, and commands an entire Prospect over St. James's Park. I have made two Plates: The first is the general Plan, where the Apartments are extreamly noble, richly furnished; here is a great Stair-Cafe, august and lofty; here is a curious Collection of the best Painting, an admirable Piece of Statuary of Cain and Abel, by the famous Jean de Boulogn, with many other Rarities of great Value. In the fecond is the Front, adorned with a Pilastrade of a Corinthian Tetrastyle. The whole was conducted by the learned and ingenious Capt. Wynne, Anno 1705.

Stoke, in the County of Hereford, p. 45, 46.

Is the Seat of Mr. Auditor Foley, design'd and built by himself, attended with fine Gardens. Here Mr. Thornhill has express'd his excellent Genius in Painting the Cieling of the great Hall, and many other noble Decorations. Anno 1710.

Kings-Weston, in Gloucestershire, p. 47, 48.

Is the Seat of the Right Honourable Edward. Southwell, Esq; who is the Angaranno of our Age, to whom my Obligations are so deep, that to repeat the least Part of them, would offend the Modesty of my Bensactor. I have made two Plates: The first contains the Plans of the first and fecond Floor; the Apartments of State are raised from the great Court by 12 Steps, which lead into a very lofty and spacious Hall, that riseth the full Height of both Stories; from this you enter into the Apartments of State, very handfome and commodious; above is the Lodging-Story, with an Attick for the rest of the Family: The fecond Plate is the Front, adorned with an Hexastyle of a Corinthian Pilastrade; the Architecture is great, and Masculine; the Windows at proper Distance; and the whole Defign sufficiently demonstrates the great Genius of the Architect, which was given by Sir John Vanbrugh, and finished Anno 1713.

Lindsey House in Lincolns-Inn Fields, London, p. 49, 50·

BElongs to the Right Honourable the Marquis of Lindfey, Lord Great Chamberlain of England, and is another Piece of Inigo Jones. I have made two Plates: In the first are the Plans of the first and fecond Stories, which contain as much State and Conveniency as can be expected in a Line of 62 Foot: The fecond is the Front, which has a good rustick Bafement; from which riseth a regular Ionick Pilastrade, including the principal, and an Attick Story: The Windows are well-proportion' d, gracefully dress'd, without Affectation. The Fabrick is cover'd with a handfome Balustrade; and, in a word, the whole is conducted with that Harmony that shines in all the Productions of this great Master, who design'd it Anno 1640.

Willbery in Wiltshire, p. 51. 52.

IS the Seat of William Benfon, Esq; invented and built by himself in the Stile of Inigo Jones, who, by this excellent Choice, discovers the Politeness of his Tasle: And as he is Master of the most refined Parts of Literature, has here express'd a particular Regard to the noblest Manner of Architecture in this beautiful and regular Defign, which was executed Anno 1710.

A new Design for the Earl of Islay, p. 53, 54.

AS this Noble Lord is Brother to his Grace the Duke of Argyle, who possesseth all the great Qualities of the Family, adorned with the brightest Endowments of Nature and Acquisition, I have prefumed to skreen this Design with his Lordship's Name. Here are two Plates: The first contains the two Plans, in a Square of 76 Foot; the principal Story is raifed from the Court by 6 Steps, which leads unto the great Hall 30 in Front, 40 deep, and 30 Foot high; behind this Hall is the Salon 30 by 24 Foot, attended with double Apartments of State; the Salon is 20 Foot high, and the rest 18; here are no Bed-Chambers, this entire Floor being devoted to State: In the next Floor are two double Apartments, viz. Anti-Chamber, Bed-Chamber, &c. with a large Library over the Salon; above the other Apartments are Mezonins, for accommodating the Family, illuminated from the Leads. The fecond Plate contains the Front, which has a large Rustico that supports a regular Ionick Colonade of: Columns, though express'd in the Plan as Pilasters: Here I have omitted to continue the Rusticks, to entertain the Eye with some Repofe; the Windows are proportion' d and drefss'd in the Palladian Stile. Anno 1715.


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