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Lord Burlington and William Kent - Chiswick House near London - Research Paper Example

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The Enlightenment. Lord Burlington and William Kent – Chiswick House near London. Discuss How the Artwork Embodies the Changes that Occurred During the Period. The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement which stressed the importance of science and reason…
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Lord Burlington and William Kent - Chiswick House near London
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Download file to see previous pages This can be seen in Chiswick House, which is plainer and simpler in style than a Baroque building. The new belief in order and reason caused architects to draw up “rules” for good architecture and search for “good taste” in design (Curl 37). Buildings were designed using ideal geometric shapes such as the cube, rectangle and circle (Curl 40). This can be seen from the plan of the rooms at Chiswick House: there is a hexagonal (six-sided) hall in the centre, which is surrounded by square or rectangular rooms, and the whole building is shaped like a cube (the room plan is reproduced in Curl, 30). The eighteenth century saw important social changes. The monarchy and the church were declining in importance while the importance of the middle classes and the aristocracy was increasing (Black 269). A good example is the Earl of Burlington, the architect and owner of Chiswick House, who was an important patron of the arts and a private individual, not a royal. Aristocrats were often landowners, and the eighteenth century was the great age of landscape gardening (Black 270). Chiswick House is surrounded by gardens, which were planned by Burlington’s assistant, William Kent. There was an increasing trend for aristocrats to go on a Grand Tour to Italy, to learn about ancient history and to collect works of art for their country houses (Black 293). Lord Burlington first visited Italy in 1714 and returned to Italy in 1719 to study buildings designed by Palladio, a great Renaissance architect. Chiswick House is modelled on Palladio’s Villa Rotonda, though it is not an exact copy. Chiswick House is smaller than the Villa Rotonda and it has a portico (with classical columns) on only one side of the building, while the Rotonda has porticos on all four sides (Steenbergen 131). Palladio and Burlington were both trying to recreate the villas of the ancient Romans. This may have had a political significance for Burlington, since he was a member of the British aristocracy, who modelled themselves on the “patricians” (aristocrats) of ancient Rome. Burlington did not actually live at Chiswick House: he used the building to display his art collection, hold concerts of music, and entertain his guests. The Enlightenment’s love of order and reason can be seen when we look at the front exterior of Chiswick House. The general effect is formal, symmetrical, and elegant. The stonework is quite plain. The only decoration is to be found in the elaborate (Corinthian) tops to the columns and the triangular tops to the two large windows. Two cleverly designed flights of steps lead up to the portico. The columns and the dome are important features of classical architecture. The interior of the house is much more colorful and elaborate, perhaps as a deliberate contrast to the rather plain exterior. Outside the house, at the bottom of the steps, there are statues of Palladio and Inigo Jones, who was the first English architect to design buildings in the Palladian style. This kind of symbolism continues inside the house. For example, the entrance to the central hall contains a bust of Augustus, who was the first Roman emperor. On the ceiling of the Blue Velvet Room there is a depiction of the goddess of architecture, and on the ceiling of the Green Velvet Room there is Mercury, god of commerce and the arts. The Chiswick House website suggests that Mercury could symbolise Burlington himself, a great patron of the arts. The use of symbolism extends into the gardens. There are statues of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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