Some of Britain’s best known and most-loved buildings can be described as English Baroque, from St Paul’s Cathedral to Blenheim Palace. Architects have always been influenced by the work of other architects, but in the late 17th century few of them traveled abroad to see what was being built in Italy or France. So where exactly did architects such as Sir Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir John Vanbrugh get their ideas?
The exhibition will show how these three, and other architects, took inspiration from Baroque buildings across Europe, largely from books and engravings. It will challenge the usual perception that the English baroque was derived chiefly from Italy and show how France, and particularly Francois Mansart, was a key influence.
The exhibition contains drawings and prints from the RIBA Library collections as well as the recently acquired 1694 model of Easton Neston by Nicholas Hawksmoor. There are also loans from Sir John Soane’s Museum, All Souls College and the Queen’s College, Oxford as well as private collections, many of which have never been shown in public before. There will be around 60 exhibits by amongst others Wren, Hawksmoor, Vanbrugh, William Talman and James Gibbs as well as studies by artists and craftsmen such as Grinling Gibbons, Louis Laguerre and Sir James Thornhill.
The display is timed to complement the V&A’s major exhibition Baroque 1620 – 1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence.
Admission to the V&A is free. Admission to the Architecture Gallery and Study Rooms is free. For public enquiries - 020 7942 2000; www.vam.ac.uk; www.architecture.com. The V&A is open Monday to Sunday 10am – 5.45pm and until 21.45 every Friday.