Nicholas Stone

(c. 1587—1647) sculptor, master mason, and architect

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

(b ?Sidbury or ?Woodbury, nr. Exeter, c.1587; d London, 24 Aug. 1647).

English sculptor, mason, and architect. The son of a Devonshire quarryman, he trained in London, where he met Hendrik de Keyser, who visited the city in 1606–7. Stone went to Amsterdam with de Keyser and worked for him until 1613, when he married his daughter and returned to England. He quickly established himself as the outstanding tomb sculptor in the country, surpassing his contemporaries in technical skill as a marble cutter and outdoing them in introducing new ideas: the monument to Francis Holles (d1622; Westminster Abbey), for instance, has the first English example of a figure in Roman armour. In 1619 Stone became master mason for Inigo Jones's Banqueting House in Whitehall, and in 1632 master mason to the crown. His contact with the court gave him a knowledge of the antique sculpture in Charles I's collection and his work after c.1630 shows a change in style, marked by an attempt to imitate antique drapery, as in the monument to John and Thomas Lyttelton (1634, Magdalen College, Oxford). His large workshop produced monuments of many types, and we are unusually well informed about its activities, as an office notebook covering the period 1614–41 and an account book for the period 1631–42 still survive (Soane Mus., London). Much less of his work as an architect is extant (and it is sometimes not clear whether he was the designer as well as the mason of the buildings on which he worked), but he is recognized as the creator of ‘a vernacular classical architecture of considerable charm and accomplishment’ (Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600–1840, 1978). The outbreak of civil war in 1642 seems to have brought his career to an end. After his death the youngest of his three sons, JohnStone (1620–67), ran the family practice, even though he does not appear to have been a sculptor himself.

Subjects: Art.

Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.