English art and architecture

The Seventeenth Century

From the first quarter of the 17th cent., masterly interpretations of classical architecture were being produced in England. Initiated by Inigo Jones, who modeled his buildings directly after antique structures and designs by Andrea Palladio, the Palladian style spread throughout England. After the great fire of 1666 much of London had to be rebuilt. Influenced by Italian Renaissance architecture, Sir Christopher Wren, drawing upon diverse sources, created an English baroque through his original and grandiose plans for the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral and through the variety and ingenuity of his designs for 51 of the City churches. His successors were Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir John Vanbrugh, whose massive country houses were the crowning expression of the English baroque.

In painting, the achievements of the 16th-century Elizabethan portraitists were followed in the next century by the delicate accomplishments of such miniaturists as Samuel Cooper and Richard Cosway. Late in the 17th cent. English sculpture was dominated by the celebrated artist Grinling Gibbons, who decorated parts of Westminster Abbey and other churches and palaces.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: European Art to 1599