The Italian Embassy

On Friday I went to a party at the Italian Embassy on Grosvenor Square.   I was asked if I knew its history.   I didn’t.   Then, serendipitously, in leafing through the latest issue of the RA Magazine, I discovered that the Friends are going on a tour of it and, also, that there is a chapter on it in James Stourton’s Great Houses of London.   The style of the house is Italianate Victorian, as required by the Grosvenor Estate, but its character is due to the fact that it was redecorated by Gerald Wellesley after Italy had been granted a 200-year lease in 1931.   Wellesley, after serving as a diplomat in Rome, where he filled ‘sacks with shining porphyry, verde antico, giallo antico, and so on’, was apprenticed to Goodhart-Rendel after the first world war.   John Betjeman maliciously said that he was the only architect to have a style named after him (‘jerry-built’), but the Embassy is an accomplished and appropriately opulent exercise in 30s classicism, informed by Wellesley’s taste for collecting.

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One thought on “The Italian Embassy

  1. suestamp says:

    Dear Charles, it was because we saw the Italian Embassy featured in James’s book that we have tenaciously pursued doing a tour of it. Indeed I will contact James to see if he could accompany us there perhaps, he has done tours of West Wycombe Park for me before as he is a good friend of the Dashwoods (whom I know). Glad you spotted it in our Friends’ Events pages! Sue

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