Sir William Chambers

Chambers, Sir William, 1723–96, English architect, b. Gothenburg, Sweden. He traveled extensively in the East Indies and in China making drawings of gardens and buildings, many of which were later published. He studied architecture in France and Italy and established (1755) his practice in England where he designed decorative architecture for Kew Gardens. From the founding (1768) of the Royal Academy to the end of his life, Chambers was a dominant figure in its councils. His Treatise on the Decorative Part of Civil Architecture (1759) became a standard and influential work on classic design. The foremost official architect of his day in England, he continued the neo-Palladian tradition, which he adapted to the prevailing classical taste. His chief work, Somerset House, is an extensive block of government offices, begun in 1776. He also had charge of various alterations at Trinity College, Dublin, and designed additions to Blenheim Palace, the observatory in Richmond Park, and casinos in many parks of the nobility. He became private architect to King George III and was made (1782) surveyor general. Chambers was buried in Westminster Abbey.

See study by J. Harris (1971).

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

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