Burlington House

One of the (few) pleasures of coming back from holiday was finding on my desk a copy of Nick Savage’s magnificent and beautifully well written monograph, published today, on Burlington House:  Home of the Royal Academy of Arts.   I thought I knew the history reasonably well.   How wrong I was ! From its first construction by Sir John Denham, the poet and Surveyor General, on the north side of whfejthen called Portugal Street, west of Pickadilly; through its purchase by the wealthy first Earl of Burlingto dn; to the purchase of land by the second Earl in 1699 to enlarge the garden and the commission by his widow, Juliana, of the newly arrived Italian artists, Pellegrini and Marco Ricci; to the third Earl’s role as a Maecenas; and so on through the ownership of the various members of the Cavendish family to its acquisition by the government and ultimately by the Royal Academy after innumerable alternative proposals; Nick Savage illuminates every stage of an extraordinarily complex building history, not just through his meticulous narrative, but with the help of innumerable prints, drawings and ground plans, some of which are familiar, but equally many not. It’s a great feat of reconstruction. Only £60 and I hope available from the Royal Academy bookshop.

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