Today's Birthdays: October 20
Sir Christopher Wren
1632–1723, English architect.
He was professor of astronomy at Gresham College, London, from 1657 to 1661, when he became Savilian professor of astronomy at Oxford. Though now known as the greatest architect of the English baroque style, Wren was a celebrated mathematician in his time. In 1665 he spent six months in Paris studying architecture. After the great fire of 1666 he prepared a masterly plan for the reconstruction of London, never executed. He designed, however, many new buildings, the greatest being Saint Paul's Cathedral. From 1670 to 1711 he executed 52 London churches, most of which still stand, notable for their varied and original designs and for their fine spires. They include St. Stephen, Walbrook; St. Martin, Ludgate; St. Bride, Fleet Street; and St. Mary-le-Bow, the latter manifesting the type of spire in receding stages generally associated with Wren's name. Among his numerous secular works are the Sheldonian Theatre and Queen's College library, both at Oxford; the library of Trinity College, Cambridge; the garden facade of Hampton Court Palace; Chelsea Hospital; portions of Greenwich Hospital; and the buildings of the Temple, London. Wren also built residences in London and in the country, and these, as well as his public works, received the stamp of his distinguished style. His buildings exhibit a remarkable elegance, order, clarity, and dignity. His influence was considerable on church architecture in England and abroad. In 1675, Wren was knighted. He was buried in the crypt of St. Paul's.
See studies by Geoffrey Webb (1937), E. F. Sekler (1956), Viktor Fürst (1956), J. N. Summerson (new ed. 1965), and Margaret Whinney (1972).
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