In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Inigo Jones

  • Introduction
  • Travels
  • Urban Designs
  • Materials, Site Organization, and Construction
  • Theater and Stage Designs
  • Architectural Drawings

Art History Inigo Jones
Vaughan Hart
  • LAST REVIEWED: 18 August 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 March 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199920105-0118


Inigo Jones (b. 1573–d. 1652) is widely acknowledged to have been England’s most important architect. He was also the single-most important figure in the visual arts in England in the 17th century. Jones famously traveled to Italy and studied first-hand the buildings of the Italian masters, and he admired, in particular, those of Andrea Palladio. As the court designer to the Stuart kings, James I and Charles I, he is credited with introducing the classical language of architecture to the country, that is, the coherent display of the antique architectural Orders on façades following Renaissance building practices by then common throughout Europe. The first half of the 17th century saw a fundamental change in the popular style of English architecture. While previous English architect-masons had used the Orders in isolated but coherent ways, as on the gate to the Old Schools in Oxford and on that to Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge, no one had used the Orders to compose an entire façade, as Jones was to do at the Banqueting House in Whitehall from 1619. Jones also designed such seminal works as the Queen’s House at Greenwich and the Queen’s Chapel at St. James’s Palace during his long service as Surveyor of the King’s Works. His most important work, the refacing of Old St. Paul’s Cathedral, was largely destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, and it was demolished to make way for Wren’s building. Alongside his design of buildings, Jones designed the costumes and perspective settings for a series of court masques. He also laid out the first public squares in London, at Covent Garden and Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Jones was awarded the title of “Vitruvius Britannicus” soon after his death, and he came to be seen as the quintessential English Palladian in the 18th century through the work of Lord Burlington and Colen Campbell.

General Overviews

No single work could possibly encompass all of Jones’s activities, but some works offer a biography or a comprehensive study of an area of his interests, whether in building or in theater. The Palladian school of interpretation of his work is advanced in Wittkower 1943, Saxl and Wittkower 1948, Summerson 1966, and, more recently, in the readable account Tavernor 1991. His close relationship with his pupil and assistant John Webb has now received attention in Bold 1989. An attempt at a detailed overview of Jones is offered in Fusco 1985, without much discussion of his masque designs, however. General, readable accounts of his work are to be found in Lees-Milne 1953, Summerson 1953, and Worsley 2007, the latter taking issue with some of Summerson’s stylistic assumptions when considering his work in the northern European context.

  • Bold, John. John Webb: Architectural Theory and Practice in the Seventeenth Century. Oxford: Clarendon, 1989.

    Although this book focuses on the work of John Webb, much content inevitably concerns his master, Jones, and the interrelationship between the two. Webb was the first in England to receive such an architectural apprenticeship. The consideration of Webb’s role as Jones’s clerk on site is important (although the text has a few inaccuracies, such as the claim that Jones remodeled the whole of the exterior of Old St. Paul’s Cathedral).

  • Fusco, Annarosa Cerutti. Inigo Jones: Vitruvius Britannicus; Jones e Palladio nella cultura archittonica inglese, 1600–1740. Rimini, Italy: Maggioli Editore, 1985.

    This book (in Italian) places Jones firmly in the tradition of Palladianism. It is organized by theme, although a section catalogues Jones’s works, both certain and attributed (however, see the more authoritative list in Colvin 2008, cited under Biographies and Biographical Details). Jones’s study of the treatises of Palladio, Serlio, and Scamozzi are all dealt with in detail. There is little attempt here to cover Jones’s lifelong involvement with masque design.

  • Lees-Milne, James. The Age of Inigo Jones. London: Batsford, 1953.

    Although a considerable amount has been published on Jones since this book first appeared, it still has much to offer concerning the social and aesthetic setting of his work.

  • Saxl, Fritz, and Rudolf Wittkower. British Art and the Mediterranean. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1948.

    This is a catalogue of a photographic exhibition on the connections between British and Mediterranean cultures held at the Warburg Institute of London in 1941. Jones’s knowledge of Palladian architecture is emphasized, with the Queen’s House compared with the proportions used by Palladio in his plan for Villa Pisani. Reprinted, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969.

  • Summerson, John. Architecture in Britain, 1530–1830. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1953.

    Together, chapters 7–9 give a lucid and concise survey of Jones’s work: arranged thematically, the chapters are entitled “Inigo Jones at the Court of James I”; “The Surveyorship of Inigo Jones, 1615–1643”; and “Inigo Jones, His Contemporaries and Followers.” For criticism of Summerson’s categorization of Jones’s buildings into what he terms the “Artisan style,” see Worsley 2007. Eighth revised edition printed in 1991.

  • Summerson, John. Inigo Jones. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1966.

    This book offers a succinct account of Jones’s life and work, arranged chronologically. For anyone beginning to study Jones, this is a very good place to start. Indeed for many years it was the only biographical study, bar the more basic text in Gotch 1928 (cited under Biographies and Biographical Details). Not surprisingly given when the book was written, there is a Palladian bias, but other influences, including that of Serlio, are also recognized. Republished and edited, with footnotes and a brief bibliography, by Howard Colvin (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000).

  • Tavernor, Robert. Palladio and Palladianism. London: Thames and Hudson, 1991.

    Jones is here once again presented as, first and foremost, Palladio’s disciple. The text describes his intention to “carry forth the banner of Vitruvio-Palladianism,” and repeats the well-established scheme emphasizing Jones’s early naivety enlightened by travel to Italy in 1614 and a close study of Italian, and particularly Palladian, buildings. The book is still one of the best sources for this interpretation of Jones.

  • Wittkower, Rudolf. “Pseudo-Palladian Elements in English Neo-classical Architecture.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 6 (1943): 154–164.

    DOI: 10.2307/750430

    This article presents Jones’s designs for doorways and windows, and the Venetian or Serlian window in particular, in the context of the writings of Serlio and the work of Scamozzi. Jones’s design of these details is seen as inspiration for the subsequent English Palladians. Reprinted in Wittkower 1974.

  • Wittkower, Rudolf. Palladio and English Palladianism. London: Thames and Hudson, 1974.

    Republishes Wittkower 1943, Wittkower 1948 (cited under Biographies and Biographical Details), and Wittkower 1953 (cited under Architectural Drawings). Following in the footsteps of the 18th-century Palladians Campbell and Burlington, Wittkower here presents Jones as the disciple of Palladio.

  • Worsley, Giles. Inigo Jones and the European Classicist Tradition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007.

    Worsley sets out to overturn the Summerson-inspired view of Jones as “backward” in his preference for a plain architectural style (Summerson 1953), in the face of apparently more refined, and ornamental, European classical tastes. This involves detailed study of the style of contemporary work by the French architects François Mansart and Jean Androuet du Cerceau, Dutch architects Jacob van Campen and Pieter Post, German architects Jakob Wolf and Elias Holl, and, most famously, the Italians Vincenzo Scamozzi and Alessandro Tesauro.

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