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Burlington, Richard Boyle, Fourth Earl of Cork and Third Earl of (1694-1753): English Architect.

As the foremost exponent of Palladianism in Great Britain, Lord Burlington was the dominant figure in British architecture in the early Georgian period. Palladianism was named after the sixteenth-century architect Andrea Palladio and was first introduced to England by Inigo Jones in the seventeenth century.

After ascending to his title in 1704, Burlington went on the Grand Tour in 1714-5, where he became enamored of Palladian ideas in architecture. He returned to Italy in 1719 to study Palladio’s own work in Vicenza. Upon his return to England, he used his immense wealth and influential social position to promote a revival of Palladianism in English architecture. The Palladian revival represented a return to a more austere classicism in reaction to the then dominant Baroque style of Christopher Wren, Hawksmoor, Nicholas, and Vanbrugh, Sir John, which had been closely associated with the Stuart court. After the Hanoverian succession to the British crown, Palladianism became the favored style of Whig Oligarchy, of which Burlington was himself a member, at least in part as a result of Burlington’s efforts.

Burlington sponsored the publication of several Palladian texts, including The Designs of Inigo Jones (1727), which featured several of his own designs, and Palladio’s own drawings in Fabbriche Antiche disegnate da Andrea Palladio (1730). Burlington’s own work included Tottenham Park in Wiltshire (begun in 1721), Chiswick in Middlesex (1723-1729), and the York Assembly Rooms (1731-2). He also worked to advance the careers of his protégés, such as Kent, William, to important positions in the Office of Works.

After 1730, Palladian style became the norm for public buildings and country houses in England. Burlington had established himself as the ultimate judge of taste and style in English architecture, and as the reigning authority, he was widely and regularly consulted on matters of design by all those of social significance. The Palladian Revival he promoted set the stage for the later emergence of Neoclassicism in the work of Adam, Robert and others.

Further Reading:

Toby Barnard and Jane Clark, Lord Burlington: Lord Burlington: Architecture, Art, and Life, 1995.

Rudolf Wittkower, Palladio and English Palladianism, 1974.

Kevin E. Dodson