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Article

Roberta J. M. Olson

(b Bologna, 15 May ?1775–7; d Turin, March 6, 1860).

Italian painter, architect, designer and collector. At the age of 12 he began to frequent the house in Bologna of his patron Conte Carlo Filippo Aldrovandi Marescotti (1763–1823), whose collections and library provided his early artistic education and engendered his taste for collecting. From 1795 he worked on several decorative schemes with the theatre designer and decorator Antonio Basoli (1774–1848), and it was perhaps in theatre designs that Palagi was first exposed to an eclectic range of motifs from exotic cultures. He was influenced by the linear, mannered style of Felice Giani, with whom he frequented the important evening drawing sessions at the house of the engraver Francesco Rosaspina (1762–1841). Beginning in 1802, he participated in the informal Accademia della Pace, Bologna, as well as studying at the Accademia Clementina, and was elected to the Accademia Nazionale di Belle Arti of Bologna in 1803...

Article

Alain Gruber

(b Besançon, Oct 25, 1745; d Besançon, Aug 1, 1819).

French architect and stage designer. He was the son of Pierre-François Pâris, a master builder turned architect. He was brought up in the modest court of the Prince-Bishop of Basle at Porrentruy in Switzerland, where from 1750 his father was official architect and topographer. He went to Paris probably in 1760 to study under the architect Louis-François Trouard, and after three unsuccessful attempts at the Prix de Rome in 1766, 1768 and 1769, he obtained the support of the Marquis de Marigny and the Duc d’Aumont with his project for entertainments at the wedding of the Dauphin and Marie-Antoinette, planned for 1770. He then went to the Académie de France in Rome as tutor to Trouard’s young son. During his five years there he associated with Cardinal de Bernis, Charles de Wailly, Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Bergeret de Grancourt and contributed to the Abbé de Saint-Non’s Voyage pittoresque with drawings of antique monuments at Pompeii, Paestum, Herculaneum and elsewhere. He also travelled through Italy, from Sicily to Venice and the Piedmont, and kept travel journals of considerable interest. His many portfolios of architectural drawings were highly successful on his return to Paris and brought him employment: improvements to the Duc d’Aumont’s residence on the Place Louis XV (...

Article

David Watkin

(b Goring on Thames, Oxon, Sept 10, 1753; d London, Jan 20, 1837).

English architect and collector. Soane has long been recognized as the most original architect in Britain, and possibly in Europe, around 1800. Intent on returning to first principles, he developed a personal language of strange and often bizarre poetry that found no real imitators and, although steeped in the Classical tradition, he reduced the orders to a system of incised lines that are a parallel to the fundamentalist doctrines of the Abbé Marc-Antoine Laugier. At the same time he bathed his interiors in light from hidden sources in a manner that, while ultimately Baroque, may owe something to Piranesi.

Born in modest circumstances as the son of a bricklayer, Soane was trained for four years from 1768 by the inventive architect George Dance (ii) before working in the office of Henry Holland from 1772 to 1777. Later in his career Soane developed his architectural ideas in close but informal association with Dance, his ‘revered master’, with whom he shared a preoccupation with toplighting and a concern to create what Dance called ‘unshackled’ architecture. In ...

Article

R. Windsor Liscombe

(b Norwich, Aug 31, 1778; d Cambridge, Aug 31, 1839).

English architect, writer and collector . A ‘profound knowledge of the principles both of Grecian and Gothic architecture’ generated the career of Wilkins, who was also remembered as ‘a most amiable and honourable man’. He promoted the archaeological Greek Revival in Britain and a Tudor Gothic style. More intellectual than imaginative, his architecture was distinguished by a deft and disciplined manipulation of select historical motifs, a refined sense of scale and intelligent planning, outmoded by the time of his death. Besides his architecture and extensive antiquarian writings, Wilkins assembled an eclectic art collection and owned, or had a financial interest in, several theatres in East Anglia.

The theatres and Wilkins’s architectural bent were inherited from his father, a Norwich architect also called William Wilkins (1751–1815), who assisted Humphry Repton from 1785 to 1796 and established a successful domestic practice, mainly in the Gothick style. His eldest son was educated at Norwich School, then at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, from which he graduated Sixth Wrangler in ...