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Design from 1620 to 1800



The years from 1620 to 1800 produced work which differs chiefly from that of the previous period, owing to its origin being due to various individual designers and their schools.

Previous to 1620, when Inigo Jones began his career, the workman was his own designer, and when one considers the various craftsmen employed in a building, the woodworker, the plasterer, the stonemason, and so on, all following their own ideals, it was inevitable that the result should be a strange intermixture of ideas. Then again, the work in each particular craft was full of eccentric blendings of various styles.

The origin and development of the Renaissance in England has been dealt with in Volume I. The Jacobean style in the year 1620 was a medley of the Gothic with the Renaissance, abounding with doubtful adaptations of classic details. Odd scraps of the Renaissance had been seen and had been gravely coupled with the traditional Gothic without the slightest worry or thought as to their correct application.

Of the changes that have overtaken English rooms, the most sudden and striking occurred when Inigo Jones commenced his work. He did not simply weave his Palladian ideas into the contemporary Jacobean, but began quite afresh in his new style. It is true that during his lifetime a number of houses were erected and their rooms treated by Jacobean craftsmen who were, to a certain extent, influenced by him. This created a certain overlapping in style, but their efforts are easily distinguishable from the correct classic work of the master. He designed every detail and required that it should be faithfully carried out according to his, and not the craftsmen's, ideas.

From the days of Inigo Jones and onwards the names of various designers dominate the periods. In some cases they stood alone, with a flock of followers working in their style, and at other times several contemporary designers, each more or less individual in their ideas, attracted the attention of the architectural world. The result was that rooms expressed more individuality of treatment than in earlier days when the customs of the times were chiefly responsible for the type of work produced. A certain percentage of the evolution, however, is traceable to the contemporary customs or fashions, as, for instance, in the early years of the 18th century, when it became customary for the wealthier people to travel abroad and visit the places whence the classical style originated. This resulted in the revival of grand and princely treatment, and the consequent replacement of the carved woodwork of Wren and Grinling Gibbons by stucco and gilt ornamentation. The architects, however, who followed the fashionable trend, did not reach the high order of genius displayed by men like Jones and Wren, to whose individuality all other matters seemed secondary.

Generally speaking, the periods following 1620, although varying according to the particular style in vogue, were far more formal than in earlier times. The introduction of sash windows in William III.'s reign created an element of formality. Their exterior disposition was responsible for a certain uniformity in the interior, which contrasted with the earlier buildings when windows were often placed in a position most convenient to the builder without any ideas of balance.





















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