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John Webb

(1611—1672) architect


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(1611–72).

English architect. A pupil and relative (by marriage) of Inigo Jones, he assisted the latter when working on St Paul's Cathedral, London, in the 1630s. He made many drawings for the unrealized Whitehall Palace, and rebuilt (1648–50) the interior (notably the celebrated double-cube room once thought to be by Jones) of Wilton House, Wilts., after a fire (1647–8). After Jones's death (1652) Webb was the unrivalled master of Classical architecture in England, steeped as he was in knowledge of the works of Palladio, Scamozzi, and Serlio, although he seems never to have visited Italy (but may have travelled in France in 1656). His finest surviving works are the Corinthian portico and north front of The Vyne, Hants. (1654–6), the earliest domestic portico in England (a motif derived from Palladio's Villa Barbaro at Maser), and the King Charles Block, Greenwich Palace (1664–9), the last a masterly composition in which Baroque devices such as the Giant Order and the overhanging keystone were employed to great effect. Probably his finest country-house was Amesbury Abbey, Wilts. (1659–61—rebuilt by Hopper, 1834–40), described by C. R. Cockerell as ‘of uncommon grandeur’, and certainly one of the most outstanding Palladian compositions of C17 (illustrated in Vitruvius Britannicus. 1725, and Kent's Designs of Inigo Jones, vol. ii. 1727). Much of his other work has been destroyed, although several of his important buildings were published in Vitruvius Britannicus (1715, 1717, and 1725), where they had a profound influence on the second Palladian Revival of Burlington and his circle. Unfortunately for Webb's reputation, most of his designs were attributed to Inigo Jones by Campbell and Kent.

Bold (1989);Colvin (1995);Harris & Turner (1979);M&E (1995);Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);Summerson (ed.) (1993);Webb (1985)

Subjects: Architecture.


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