The House and the Drawings Collection at West Wycombe Park: Dashwood's Educated Taste

Essay by Clare Hornsby


To the eye of the arriving visitor, West Wycombe Park has a curiously varied exterior appearance. The setting – with the lake, the eye-catching garden buildings and the spreading acres of lawn and park – epitomises the genre of the English country house, yet a closer look reveals disjunction, discontinuity and asymmetry. The typological paradox outlined by Wittkower between ‘formalised’ classical building and ‘romantic’ garden setting is made more startling here where each one of the four classicising facades is different; the paradox is extended by these stylistic juxtapositions.1 Indeed, the facades – three of which are colonnaded porticoes – were built separately over an extended period of forty years or so, starting with the north facade, then east, south and finally west, each expressing a new phase in the patron’s engagement with classicism. The north and east facades, as I shall show, have a traditionally neo-Palladian appearance but the south and west are, respectively, inspired by sources from Italy via France and by archaeological examination of an ancient Greek temple. These facades were added to an existing core and the interior spaces adapted to fit.2

The collection of drawings as formed in the life-time of Sir Francis Dashwood, 2nd Baronet (1708–1781) is an invaluable source of documentary evidence of the patron’s plans for his house; as references to the architectural refurbishment work in his letters and papers are few, the drawings take on two roles – documenting the design process as well as revealing an aesthetic development. That development is inextricably linked to the patron’s enlightened and well-informed interest in the classical world as experienced on his travels, reinforced on his return by his social networks and expressed in his taste. As much as the works of art or the books, the house itself is a part of Dashwood’s collection.

The drawings tell the story of many different hands at work, executing a series of different design concepts. Although no definitive conclusions can be drawn relating to identification of the various hands, it is problematic to assume that the majority of the drawings were executed by John Donowell or Maurice Jolivet, the names most commonly associated with the house in the past.3 I intend to make the case for the part played by Dashwood himself in sketching out first ideas for the north and south front that were then taken up by professional architects of the calibre of Isaac Ware, Roger Morris and Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni.

The drawings for the house, when taken together with those for Dashwood’s London home, for the proposed Academy of the Dilettanti and for other, unknown, locations, reveal Dashwood’s sophisticated use of the neo-classical vocabulary of style and his ambition to display his learned approach in his building. Put into context in this essay with other visual sources, the drawings can reveal much about the aesthetic background to Dashwood’s educated taste.4

Throughout this essay, reference will be made to the accompanying Select Catalogue of Drawings; ideally, the essay and the catalogue should be read together.

‘From a distance, like a picture’: Three Facades at West Wycombe

1. North Front: The Roles of Francis Dashwood and Isaac Ware

The facade had its beginnings with the ideas of Dashwood himself in the late 1730s (WW1) and was complete enough to be painted, as built, c.1754 (see Introduction, fig. 1). The Vitruvius Britannicus attribution to John Donowell as the architect of the north front – indeed of the whole house – must be set aside; he is not mentioned in the sources until 1755, although he may have contributed drawings before then.5 At the period of the rebuilding of West Wycombe there is no evidence of him having expertise in architectural design or creative ability – on the contrary, his inadequacy in the eyes of Dashwood later led to his dismissal.6 The large number of competent sketches for the two principal facades of the house, with some plans and sections that deal with the interior disposition of the rooms, indicate that he probably worked as the executant builder. Donowell is known as a view-painter, notably of Chiswick House.7 As a relative unknown in the architectural world with no client list, he would have been a cheaper alternative for Sir Francis than fashionably busy and costly professionals.

There is evidence of Roger Morris having contributed a drawing for the north front; WW4 is a working drawing with rustication on the basement and the temple front is elaborated with bucrania metopes. The attribution to Morris is confirmed by Parissien, the inscription being similar to his hand elsewhere.8 In the 1740s, in addition to his role at Mereworth (see below on the east portico), he was working for Dashwood’s close friend and political ally George Bubb Dodington at his Thames-side villa at Hammersmith. There, Morris created a clear neo-Palladian statement in his refurbishment of an earlier building, as was done at West Wycombe, although the house was considerably smaller in size and therefore correspondingly less ambitious in design.9

Steven Parissien makes a compelling argument for Isaac Ware as the origin of the north facade design; the stylistic vocabulary employed in the drawings here shows a notable closeness to Ware’s work.10 His slightly later Amisfield house design is much like the West Wycombe north front, including its use of render across the whole facade rather than leaving areas of visible brickwork (fig. 1).11 Gervase Jackson-Stops’s suggestion regarding Donowell and his contributions is convincing: ‘he was simply carrying out other people’s designs: Ware’s for the North Front, Servandoni’s for the South’.12

Elevation of a house built at New Milns in Scotland, the seat of Francis Charteris, Esq. [Amisfield House], Book III, pl. 45 in Isaac Ware, A complete body of Architecture adorned with plans and elevations from original designs, in which are interspersed some designs of Inigo Jones, never been published (London: T. Osborne and J. Shifton, 1756)

Figure 1.
Elevation of a house built at New Milns in Scotland, the seat of Francis Charteris, Esq. [Amisfield House], Book III, pl. 45 in Isaac Ware, A complete body of Architecture adorned with plans and elevations from original designs, in which are interspersed some designs of Inigo Jones, never been published (London: T. Osborne and J. Shifton, 1756), 1756. ETH-Bibliothek Zürich (Rar 445 fol.).

Digital image courtesy of ETH-Bibliothek Zürich. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

2. The Role of Roger Morris: The East Portico and Some Villa Drawings

There is more clarity in the history of this part of the refurbishment; the evidence of its date is provided by a Hannan painting from c.1751–4 showing the two completed facades of the house – north and east (see Introduction, fig. 1). A letter of 1754 from the purveyor of Portland stone detailing the cut stones to be delivered for the columns confirms this.13 Stylistic links with Mereworth confirm an attribution to Roger Morris despite the later reference to Nicholas Revett’s involvement, given in a memoir by the antiquarian and architect Joseph Woods.14

Dashwood’s uncle and guardian, John Fane (1686–1762), had succeeded to the titles of Earl of Westmorland and Baron le Despencer in 1736 after which he embarked on a further campaign of building at his neo-Palladian mansion, Mereworth Castle, Kent.15 Morris, as the pupil of Colen Campbell who had completed the house in the 1720s, continued to work at both house and church in the early 1740s (fig. 2).16 His side pavilions there are the model for the original design of the east portico at West Wycombe (see Introduction, fig. 4). Dashwood’s employment of his uncle’s architect, who was also the chosen architect of his friend Dodington, reveals the influence that his social and family networks had on his own project. Any direct contribution by Morris must date from before the end of 1748, as he died in January of the following year.

Mereworth Castle, Kent, showing the main house and one of the two side pavilions

Figure 2.
Mereworth Castle, Kent, showing the main house and one of the two side pavilions, Photograph. Country Life Picture Library (553488).

Digital image courtesy of Country Life Picture Library. (All rights reserved)

Two variations of the portico in Morris’s hand at West Wycombe show the likeness (WW16 and WW17); sketches of elevations for the Mereworth pavilion facades are also in the collection (WW18 and WW19). As built, the detailing of the Doric frieze of the portico is crisp and correct; it is decorated with frescoes in the tympanum and flanking the doors to what was originally the ballroom in the eighteenth century. There is further evidence of Morris’s presence: villa drawings that have been given authoritatively to him by Parissien are part of the collection (WW47, WW48, WW49, WW50).17 They form a homogenous group on the theme of a neo-Palladian villa with rusticated basement. Dashwood may have been considering erecting a pavilion in the park, at a distance from the main house; this could explain the drawings’ presence in the collection. A boundary wall and indications of ancillary buildings and stables on some drawings may, however, imply a more complex building. Overall, Morris appears to be using the design of Pembroke House in Whitehall, built in 1723–4 with the collaboration of Henry Herbert, Lord Pembroke.

3. South Front: Servandoni and Continental Palladianism in England

The unusual appearance and construction of this imposing facade, originally the main entrance to the house, has intrigued scholars over the years. The presence in England from 1747 of the Franco-Italian architect Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni is well documented, as are his activities as an architect for Bubb Dodington, Frederick Prince of Wales and as a fireworks designer for Charles Frederick, Master of the Ordnance.18 Servandoni’s involvement at West Wycombe is certain, based on the presence of a set of villa drawings. Yet, despite his undoubted influence on the south front design, not one of the extant drawings is attributable directly to him.

The process of elaboration from Dashwood’s first idea can be traced and it is with WW21 that the notion of a colonnade stretching the length of the facade is introduced. It is loosely based on Dashwood’s south front idea (WW20); however this is a sophisticated presentation, with the addition of block modillions articulating the cornice in the centre bays. A different hand is at work in WW22 where the colonnade of the previous drawing has become a giant order of Tuscan Doric columns with the cornice breaking into an extended open segmental pediment framing the entrance. It is suggested by Parissien that this is a French hand and Jolivet, working under Servandoni, may be the author of the drawing; Servandoni’s c.1761 facade design for Hingene castle in Belgium has a similar giant entrance arch motif, although there it is a giant Serliana.19 Also notable are the decorative elements over the door – the griffin and the cartouches with initials.20 The unfinished drawing, WW23, is close to Servandoni’s design of the lower-level colonnade at Saint Sulpice in Paris, which is Doric. The rest of the drawings develop the notion of the colonnade and culminate in WW27, although WW26 has two solutions for the window shape: the right-hand side has the shallow-curved head jambs, as built, which are French in influence.21

West Wycombe’s south front portico as built is described by Giles Worsley as having ‘Roman Baseless Doric’ as its lower order.22 Tim Knox has termed it Tuscan.23 Its upper storey has a Corinthian order. The lower storey columns are in fact an approximation of Tuscan Doric with a low square profile base – not ‘correct’ in Vitruvian or Palladian theory. In terms of the orders, an exemplar of Corinthian directly over Doric is at Saint Roch in Paris, contemporary with Saint Sulpice, which would have been well known to Servandoni. A further insight into this unusual superimposition of orders is that the dividing entablature here is Ionic, not Doric as would be expected and as is the case at Saint Roch; the correct Ionic is included and tradition acknowledged, albeit almost surreptitiously. In the final drawing (WW27), two possible solutions are included on one sheet: the right-hand section proposes a high base with plinth for the upper storey (the Palladio/Servandoni solution) while the left-hand section is drawn without this and is similar to the final executed design which has a Corinthian capital (see WW28, although this has a high base to the column, not as executed). Across the sheet, the lower storey has a more or less correct Tuscan order. The hand of this drawing appears to be inexpert if not actually amateur and the executant builder John Donowell is a likely candidate for its authorship.

This double portico colonnade was a Palladian-inspired solution proposed under the influence of Servandoni, who had created a similar facade for Saint Sulpice in the 1730s, a print of which can be found in the collection (WW69). This was itself influenced by Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral and by Palazzo Chiericati in Vicenza (fig. 3) by Palladio in his Book II; more than one copy of the Quattro Libri was to be found in the library at West Wycombe.24 The prestigious quotations from Wren and Palladio – filtered through the lens of the French academic tradition, exemplified by Desgodets – would make an appropriate twin heritage for a grand entrance front for an educated, travelled English gentleman. The compromise necessary for its adaptation to the existing rooms and their windows – the incorrectly wide intercolumniation – is unfortunate and striking; and considerably reduces its impact as a classical quotation.

Palazzo Chiericati (facade), in Andrea Palladio, translated by Isaac Ware, The Four Books of Architecture (London: Burlington, 1738): Bk. II, pl. II (detail)

Figure 3.
Palazzo Chiericati (facade), in Andrea Palladio, translated by Isaac Ware, The Four Books of Architecture (London: Burlington, 1738): Bk. II, pl. II (detail), ETH-Bibliothek Zürich.

Digital image courtesy of ETH-Bibliothek Zürich. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

A final point concerning this facade is the medium of execution, which is wood and plaster. Not only is the design influenced by Servandoni’s work but the method of construction is also typical of his important pan-European commissions for temporary architecture; the contemporary neo-Palladian firework structure designed by Servandoni and erected in Green Park in 1748–9 was built with similar materials.25 Another fête design in Paris is even closer in design to the West Wycombe facade.

Wittkower in his penetrating analysis of the neo-classical and neo-Palladian in Britain uses the term ‘pseudo-Palladianism’ to describe the adoption of certain elements deriving from Palladio and their employment in buildings as two-dimensional effects rather than in terms of depth and mass. Particularly apt for the three facades at West Wycombe so far discussed is his conclusion: ‘drawings and engravings appeared to [English architects] as an appropriate medium from which to work. . . . Italian architecture must always be judged for its plastic values; an English eighteenth century building should be seen from a distance like a picture.’26

Archaeological Neo-Classicism: Nicholas Revett and the West Portico

The genesis of the west portico’s design and its origin in the Temple of Bacchus at Teos, surveyed and measured by Revett as part of the tour in Ionia sponsored by the Society of Dilettanti, has been fully examined by Jason M. Kelly in his book on the Society.27 The story is a complicated one as it reveals the errors that were common in the transmission of designs via ancient texts and Renaissance treatises where misreadings could develop. There is no doubt that the portico, which is the architectural highlight of the house, was one of the earliest and most significant examples of Greek architecture recreated in Europe. That Dashwood considered this part of his refurbishment work to be of particular importance is clear: in the ludic fashion of the Dilettanti, he celebrated an inaugural feast in the portico in honour of Bacchus, whose statue is still in place there.28 The seriousness of intent of the Dilettanti members in their archaeological activities can be seen to parallel their extravagant conviviality.29

Robert Adam had produced an earlier proposal for the west portico (see WW29, Introduction, fig. 5) which included considerably more architectural ornament than the Revett solution eventually chosen.30 There was further involvement with the Adam studio at the house – a kitchen plan, not included here – and also at Hanover Square (see entry for WW61). The Teos temple was also used as the basis for the architectural details of the portico. It is notable that Revett strictly followed the classical model – and that of Palladio – in his use of parallel Ionic volutes (see Introduction, fig. 6), as opposed to the more common ‘diagonal’ style based on the Scamozzi type, favoured by neo-Palladians in England, as seen on the north front. This underlines the strength of the authentic classical statement made here by Revett and Dashwood, contrasted with the English preference for eclectic and compromise solutions.31

Although Revett admitted that the evidence on site at Teos was fragmentary, he made a drawing of a section of its entablature that is not unlike the one he later created at the house.32 He recorded a frieze with roundels linked by foliage festoons; for the West Wycombe each roundel is drawn with its own festoon draped over (WW30). As executed, the design was altered to undraped rosette-style roundels, their design echoing those on the ceiling (fig. 4). Additionally, the doorcase is inspired from another plate in Ionian Antiquities. The palmette mouldings shown in WW32 are the same as in a plate giving details from the cornice of the pediment of the Temple of Athene Polias at Priene (now in Turkey; fig. 5), showing us that he used his own published work freely, presumably following the taste of Dashwood.33

Undraped roundels on the frieze of the inner wall of the west portico, West Wycombe Park

Figure 4.
Nicholas Revett, Undraped roundels on the frieze of the inner wall of the west portico, West Wycombe Park, Photograph. West Wycombe Park.

Digital image courtesy of West Wycombe Park / Photo: Rodolfo Acevedo Rodriguez. (All rights reserved)

Palmette moulding on the door case of the west portico, West Wycombe Park

Figure 5.
Nicholas Revett, Palmette moulding on the door case of the west portico, West Wycombe Park, Photograph. West Wycombe Park.

Digital image courtesy of Clare Hornsby. (All rights reserved)

The ceiling of the portico shows even further interest in the recent archaeological discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean and is based on a motif from an engraving of the ceiling of part of the sepulchre at Palmyra (WW33).34 In the ceiling as executed there are three varieties in the style of rosettes, only one of which is to be found in the source design (figs. 6 and 7). Both Ionian Antiquities and Robert Wood’s Ruins of Palmyra, 1753, were included in Sir Francis’s library at the house and Wood and Revett were colleagues during their respective travels in that area. There is also a Revett drawing for the pavement design as executed (WW34) featuring, as a central motif, a wine amphora (fig. 8). This was an invention ‘à la grecque’ by Revett, not based on an antique model at Teos or elsewhere.35 With the addition of the statue of Bacchus, this generously proportioned portico – more than a mere temple front – becomes a temple per se, appropriate both to Dashwood’s scholarly concerns and his enthusiastic sociability.

One of the soffits of the repositories, from Robert Wood, The Ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor, in the desart (London: Robert Wood, 1753): Plate XXXVII (detail)

Figure 6.
J.M. Müller after Giovanni Battista Borra, One of the soffits of the repositories, from Robert Wood, The Ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor, in the desart (London: Robert Wood, 1753): Plate XXXVII (detail) , 1753. Engraving, The Getty Research Institute.

Digital image courtesy of Hathi Trust Digital Library. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Part of ceiling of the west portico, West Wycombe Park

Figure 7.
Nicholas Revett, Part of ceiling of the west portico, West Wycombe Park, Photograph. West Wycombe Park.

Digital image courtesy of West Wycombe Park / Photo: Adriano Aymonino. (All rights reserved)

The pavement of the west portico, West Wycombe Park

Figure 8.
Nicholas Revett, The pavement of the west portico, West Wycombe Park, Photograph. West Wycombe Park.

Digital image courtesy of West Wycombe Park / Photo: Rodolfo Acevedo Rodriguez. (All rights reserved)

Interior Spaces and Designs

The interior of the house as it currently exists is a mixture of rooms in the original building adjusted to the facades and new spaces added. The entrance orientation – moved from the south to the west after 1770 – necessitated various adjustments undertaken by Revett that have their origins in antique sources.36 The narrow passage leading from the west portico to the end of the south colonnade (see figure 1 in the entry for WW35) may have been inspired by Vitruvius’s description of a Greek house, where the entrance passage, the thyroron, flanked – as happens to be the case at West Wycombe – by stables and office rooms led into a colonnaded peristyle.37 This detail is also discussed by Palladio; both sources were in Dashwood’s library at the house.38 The attempt at archaeological accuracy had to contend with the status quo, that is, the colonnade as it had been built approximately twenty years previously; a compromise was reached, typical of many at West Wycombe. Notable is the Ionic screen for the ‘First Hall’ – now called the Palmyra Room – by Revett (see figure 2 in the entry for WW35), responding to the columns of his adjacent west portico and executed as in the drawing (WW35). With the barrel-vaulted entrance passage, this screen reveals that Revett’s archaeological approach extended from his portico into the reorganisation of the adjoining spaces.39

The entrance hall with its Doric-column screens forming a Roman style atrium provides another connection with Roger Morris’s work at Dodington’s Hammersmith villa (fig. 9). This had the same re-ordering of an existing entrance hall into a wider space with the addition of columnar screens. The dating of the two refurbishments are roughly contemporary and, given Morris’s contribution to the east portico and the Mereworth connection, we can propose that Dashwood copied Dodington’s hall. A comparison between the two plans in Vitruvius Britannicus makes the point, although there is a discrepancy of scale. West Wycombe is a larger building and half-columns not pilasters as at La Trappe are created for the junction of the screens with the walls (fig. 10).

Plans of the ground floor at (l.) La Trappe and (r.) West Wycombe Park in in Colen Campbell, Vitruvius Britannicus or the British Architect (London: Colen Campbell, 1715): vol. IV, pl. 26 and vol. V pl. 47

Figure 9.
Plans of the ground floor at (l.) La Trappe and (r.) West Wycombe Park in in Colen Campbell, Vitruvius Britannicus or the British Architect (London: Colen Campbell, 1715): vol. IV, pl. 26 and vol. V pl. 47 , 1715. ETH-Bibliothek Zürich (Rar 445 fol.).

Digital image courtesy of ETH-Bibliothek Zürich. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

West Wycombe Park, Hall, original entrance to the house on the right, still used as entrance for the public

Figure 10.
West Wycombe Park, Hall, original entrance to the house on the right, still used as entrance for the public, 1990. Photograph. West Wycombe Park.

Digital image courtesy of Photo: Julian Nieman (All rights reserved)

Of the few other drawings for interior design in the collection, three are in the same hand (WW37, WW38, WW39). They show a decorative scheme of a wall with chimneypiece flanked by pilasters with unusual Ionic capitals, an entrance wall and a detail. The style and complexity of the decoration suggests that it was to be executed in plaster and wood with plaster additions and the fact that the draughtsmanship is uncertain and lacks confidence in details seems to indicate, as noted by John Harris, that they are the work of an Italian stuccatore.40 The designs are here attributed to Giovanni Bagutti who worked at Mereworth, Dashwood’s uncle’s house, in the 1720s. The use of an identical spreading eagle motif in the hall at Mereworth and the ‘squashed Ionic’ of the capitals is the same there as in these three drawings (see entry for WW37).41 These designs were not executed at West Wycombe and the drawings do not relate to any specific room at Mereworth.42 Their presence in Dashwood’s collection can be explained by the notable influence that his uncle had on his architectural taste and ideas. He probably considered having a stuccoed interior as at Mereworth and selected these drawings for reference. However, since Bagutti lived until 1755, they may well be drawings he made for West Wycombe.

Drawing WW36 is a simple watercolour ceiling design with classical motif, a near copy of a drawing by Francesco Bartoli (fig. 11), probably made by Dashwood. The library at West Wycombe contained many copies of the standard books of engravings of antiquities, including Bernard de Montfaucon’s Antiquité expliquée.43 Dashwood’s drawing is a version of a decorated Roman ceiling, though with emphasis on the foliage fronds and the lozenges rather than the figured discs.44 The drawing shows Dashwood’s keen enthusiasm to study and emulate the antique.45

Part of a ceiling from the Domus Transitoria, Palatine Hill, Rome

Figure 11.
Francesco Bartoli, Part of a ceiling from the Domus Transitoria, Palatine Hill, Rome , Eton College Library (Bn6, no. 24).

Digital image courtesy of The Provost and Fellows of Eton College. (All rights reserved)

The final drawing for an interior considered here is another amateur sketch. Its author, John Moody, was a collaborator in the refurbishment work, a local man who helped Sir Francis in various construction and estate matters. He made a few small drawings in the collection, attributable to him by comparison with signed letters and a sketch in the Dashwood archive.46 This is a profile of a term figure inscribed ‘Servandoni’s’ (WW40). This was probably one of the sculptures – twelve busts of Roman emperors – that Servandoni, who was working for Dashwood’s crony Dodington at the time and acting also as a dealer, had sourced in France from a noble collection and was proposing to sell on to Dodington for his Hammersmith villa.47

The Importance of Mereworth: Servandoni’s Palladian Villa Designs

Three accomplished drawings for a villa and two further sketches for a square-planned house with link building are proposals unrelated to West Wycombe as refurbished by Dashwood (WW41, WW42, WW43 and WW44 and WW45). The hand, in both design and annotations, can be firmly identified as that of Servandoni, as seen in drawings for the staircase at the house of the Cardinal d’Auvergne in Paris, among others.48 WW41, WW42 and WW43 were probably a set of three presentation drawings made by Servandoni to showcase his talents for his prospective client Dashwood. This type of villa has a layout similar to that of the maisons de plaisance to be found around Paris later in the century – not a country house in the English fashion but a place for very short visits. Examples in France of a stylistically neo-Palladian villa are rare at this period and a direct quotation such as that shown in these elevations would have been considered outlandishly avant garde.49 Servandoni is working here as a pan-European artist while adapting his Franco-Italian architectural training to the favoured style for his English practice. There are many features in these drawings identical to those made by Servandoni for patrons in Belgium in the late 1750s and 60s after his departure from England (fig. 12) and for earlier work in Paris. Before making these drawings, Servandoni must have visited Mereworth or seen its design in volume 3 of Vitruvius Britannicus, published by Colen Campbell in 1725, a copy of which was in Dashwood’s library. Servandoni included the earl’s coronet in the tympanum, presumably as a nod to the recent ennoblement of his patron’s uncle, the owner of Mereworth.

Plan of the ground floor of the Chateau d’Hingene with autograph annotations in ink by Servandoni

Figure 12.
Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni, Plan of the ground floor of the Chateau d’Hingene with autograph annotations in ink by Servandoni , circa 1761. Drawing. Bruxelles, Archives Générales du Royaume, Maison d’Arenberg (758).

Digital image courtesy of Bruxelles, Archives Générales du Royaume, Maison d’Arenberg. (All rights reserved)

Dashwood’s villa is not a copy of Palladio’s Villa Rotonda as is Mereworth but has a more sophisticated solution for the attic storey, hiding the base of the Wren-inspired dome and adding balustraded sections and corner statues on plinths. This horizontalising element looks forward to French neo-classical variations on the Palladian villa theme – Gabriel at the Petit Trianon in 1762 and Ledoux at Louveciennes in 1770.50 The rhythm of the Ionic columns supporting the pediment is the same as the solution for the centre bay of Dodington’s sculpture gallery in Hammersmith, which was also under construction at this time and which has been described as ‘a showpiece of heavy but sober and exemplary neo-classicism’.51 Looking at the English buildings inspired by the Villa Rotonda alongside this unexecuted design helps to establish its context (figs. 13 and 14).

Palladian villas in England - elevations

Figure 13.
Palladian villas in England - elevations, Photomontage.

Digital image courtesy of Clare Hornsby. (All rights reserved)

Palladian villas in England - plans

Figure 14.
Palladian villas in England - plans, Photomontage.

Digital image courtesy of Clare Hornsby. (All rights reserved)

The interior disposition of rooms, as outlined in the plan, indicate a maison de plaisance with reception room and a large portion of the interior space given over to servants’ quarters, kitchens and store-rooms. The square of 120 feet is exactly that of Mereworth; however, the internal screen of Corinthian columns on high attached plinths is not like Palladio at Villa Rotonda or Campbell at Mereworth.52 It is, however, reminiscent of the interior design of the festival pavilion made by Servandoni in Lisbon in 1746 for the English Factory, which we know of thanks to a detailed description.53 That domed structure had a similar circular screen but composed of Ionic rather than Corinthian columns. A comparison can be made with a design proposed for the Duc de Bouillon’s country house, Château de Navarre, in France: a presentation drawing signed and dated 1744 by Servandoni is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (fig. 15).54

Design for the garden façade, Chateau de Navarre Palace

Figure 15.
Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni, Design for the garden façade, Chateau de Navarre Palace, 1744. Graphite, pen and black gray ink, 42.2 × 83.5 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Digital image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence. (All rights reserved)

The two drawings of another centrally planned building (WW44 and WW45) are intriguing because the structure appears to have no entrance, being connected by a link passage on ground level to another building, not shown. We can assume that there was a drawing, now missing, that showed the principal floor; the elements projecting from the north and south sides of the basement plan must have supported entrance porticoes on the piano nobile above. The basement has service rooms with one bedroom and one ‘cabinet ou bibliotheque’, while the top floor is mostly bedrooms and one ‘salle de compagnie’. This suggests that it is a smaller guest wing, attached to or related to a larger, principal villa – see the Navarre facade for a similar layout (see fig. 15). The plan includes a wide spiral staircase on the top floor leading to a terrace or ‘altana’ on the roof.

Other Dashwood Projects: The Dilettanti Academy and the Mystery of Jolivet

Many of the most sophisticated drawings in the collection at West Wycombe have been attributed in the past to Maurice Jolivet. However, there is no evidence that this otherwise unknown draughtsman was capable of producing such work.55 Nor is the appearance of his name on an amateurish plan of the estate sufficient evidence to support these attributions (see Introduction, fig. 3). As shown by Guidoboni, there is no clear evidence that Jolivet worked as an assistant to Servandoni, yet if he did, then making the estate map was probably his only autonomous work, other activities being undertaken on the instruction and under the guidance of his master or his patron. Additionally, there is no trace of accomplished work by him noted elsewhere in the sources.56 However, Jolivet may well be identical with the ‘rascally French Architect’ commissioned by Dashwood to make a model for the building project for the Dilettanti Society Academy in Cavendish Square; the latter’s important role in the planning of this Academy is relayed in the Minutes of the Society. Jolivet is reported as having ‘ran off’ in 1753, leaving debts.57 However, this type of behaviour was habitual with Servandoni during this period of back and forth between London and Paris and also throughout the latter part of his career.58

The model for the Dilettanti Academy does not survive but there is an important drawing for the project (WW51), a site plan which has detailed labelling, here identified as in Dashwood’s hand. The flanking Academy buildings and the Council Room were intended to have elevations of Ionic simplicity and severity (WW52).59 That the eventual choice of the Society was to follow an antique model – the Temple at Pola – rather than use the design of a contemporary architect, may well also have been Dashwood’s influence; the drawings of Pola in Palladio’s Quattro Libri would naturally have been known to him.

There is also a set of drawings of a Doric peripteral temple (WW53, WW54, WW55), which, if we assume Servandoni’s absence after 1751, was perhaps executed by Jolivet, and which is connected to the Dilettanti Academy project. The two flights of steps with a landing between, with the niches flanking the entrance doorway, are similar to the Academy building. Clearly, the structure was to comprise one large room above a basement. These drawings may be the evidence of another design for the Council Room or for a large building, perhaps to display casts of statues.

Projects at Hanover Square

Several drawings in the collection for the family home in London, in Hanover Square, are also connected to Dashwood’s French collaborators. The house, situated in a fashionable location that became the favoured haunt of military men and opposition Whigs, was first lived in by Sir James Dashwood (of Kirtlington Park), a cousin of Sir Francis who then was himself resident from 1747 to 1750. From 1751 it became the residence of his maternal uncle.60 After Fane’s death in 1762, when Dashwood had inherited part of his uncle’s estate and title, it again became his London home, although while he was First Lord of the Treasury he also lived at 10 Downing Street. The house was designed by Nicholas Dubois, the Huguenot architect, in c.1717–20 and a record drawing of it is in the collection (WW56).61 It is now completely altered. Building work on the grounds to the rear of the house was proposed during Sir Francis’s time: in the collection there is an interesting set of drawings for one or more garden pavilions with bathrooms on a site with existing stables at the far end (WW57, WW58, WW59, WW60, WW61). The Dashwood house, having the corner site with Tenterden Street, had convenient access for horses and carriages. These drawings are certainly by Servandoni and share many characteristics with his work in Belgium from the 1760s. The notation of the scale and its numbering in the drawings is also typical of his work. Given his involvement in other London projects, they can be dated to c.1749–51.

One of the drawings is an outline with detailed measurements of what would have been a simple structure with two archways leading out from the garden behind the house to the stableyard (WW60). Here we can see the work of either Servandoni or his assistant, depicting the layout of the existing structure in order to design a new building. There is no evidence that the garden bath-house was built but it seems that a single-storey library wing was in fact constructed in the area at the back of the house: this is evidenced by the contribution of Robert Adam in c.1765 (see entry for WW61).62 One of the two finished designs in Servandoni’s hand (WW61) is for a single-storey building with steps leading to the entrance set under a temple-front portico, with two flanking serlianas, matching the central window in the bath-house design (WW59). As this structure would not provide through access to the stableyard, it could be an initial proposal for the library wing.

The Wider Collection: Dashwood’s Educated Taste

The final part of this essay discusses a selection of some significant material which has a bearing on other projects or reveals Dashwood’s aesthetic interests. Three drawings after Palladio, in a self-consciously formal French hand, probably Jolivet’s, of the Temple of Diana at Nîmes (WW63, WW64, WW65) are copied – although inexactly – from the measured analytical reference drawings published by Palladio. This was not in fact a temple of any sort but perhaps a library, built on the site of the first shrine location for the Roman colonists in Nîmes where the freshwater spring was located.63 The fact that this temple comes after Pola in Book IV of Palladio’s Quattro Libri may explain why Dashwood commissioned the copies, perhaps as an alternative to Pola for the Academy project.64

Souvenirs from the Grand Tour

In the collection are several handsome Visentini architectural drawings including Roman, Venetian and Tivoli views; a front elevation of the Pantheon (WW66) is included in this select catalogue as an example.65 These were common souvenirs, popular with travellers and present in many British collections.66 Paired with this is a measured plan, also of the Pantheon, by Nicholas Revett (WW67).

A possible inspiration for interior decorative motifs at West Wycombe is a sketch of part of a mosaic pavement or wall painting from Antium (WW68) showing Cupid riding a sea-bull, perhaps by Nicholas Revett. He would have passed the site (now Anzio) on his walk from Rome to Naples in April 1748 in company with James Stuart, Matthew Brettingham and Gavin Hamilton.67 Sea-bulls often act as bearers of nereids such as Galatea, accompanying images of Neptune.68 Since Cupid, with Venus, is a recurring theme in the house decoration, Dashwood would have been particularly attracted to this image.

At West Wycombe, in addition to the drawings, there is a small collection of prints and three have been chosen here as examples of inspiration from Europe for the architectural work at the house and elsewhere.69 The two Florentine prints have connections for projects close to Dashwood. The triumphal arch by the Lorrain architect Jean-Nicolas Jadot, built in Florence in 1739, as shown in the Sgrilli engraving (WW71) recalls in design and concept the arch made at Dodington’s country seat of Eastbury in Dorset by Roger Morris in honour of George II; the architect and Dodington travelled to Italy in the early 1730s, as did Dashwood.70 The street facade of the Palazzo Pitti by Bartolomeo Ammanati as shown in the Ruggieri print (WW70) recalls several of the projects for the north front at West Wycombe.

The final image to be discussed provides a link to a brief final assessment of the significance of the collection – a print of the facade at Saint Sulpice in Paris, as designed by Servandoni (WW69).71 No doubt this was acquired by Dashwood from Servandoni himself who had it printed in London; the engraver Simon-François Ravenet, an early member of the Royal Academy, was based there.72 The resonances between this facade design and that of the south front have already been discussed; its presence in the collection affirms the connections between the architect and patron, between the house project and the wider environment of architectural commissioning in and around London at the time.

Sir Francis Dashwood’s achievements in architecture may not have been on the lavish scale of his uncle at Mereworth, yet the sophistication in his choice of architects and his love of quoting from prestigious sources from the ancient world and the Renaissance show him to have been a patron of refined and educated taste. The selection of drawings chosen for the catalogue and the complete collection from which they come together reveal Dashwood’s commitment, over a period approaching forty years, to being at the forefront of stylistic developments in English architectural practice.

The four house facades reflect perfectly these developments – from the conventional English neo-Palladian of the north and east fronts, to the continental innovations and quotations of the south double colonnade and to the direct use of a design from ancient Greece with the west portico. The lack of an overall harmony to the house exterior has been seen as a weakness, ‘more pastiche than considered design’.73 I suggest that it is more constructive to view the diversity of treatments as a reflection of the patron’s decided ‘neo-antique’ tastes and the inspiration of the various notable architects to whom he turned for assistance.74


  • Clare Hornsby_crop

    Clare Hornsby is an independent art and cultural historian - formerly Assistant Director of the British School at Rome - who has worked on architectural history and the Grand Tour. In 2010 she published “Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth Century Rome”, completing the work of the late Ilaria Bignamini. She is Research Fellow at the BSR, is co-editing a volume of essays on Cardinal Alessandro Albani and with Mario Bevilacqua is planning the Piranesi@300 events in Rome for 2021. She is a Member of the Centro Studi Cultura e Immagine di Roma and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.


  1. Rudolf Wittkower, Palladio and English Palladianism, London: Thames and Hudson, 1974, p. 178.

  2. The principal accounts of the building history of the house are Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600–1840, London: John Murray, 1978, p. 326; Steven Parissien, ‘Roger & Robert Morris’, doctoral thesis, 2 vols Oxford: Oxford University, 1989, vol. 1, 109–10, nn. 1, 2; Gervase Jackson-Stops, West Wycombe Park, Swindon: National Trust, repr. continually 1978–89; Tim Knox, West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire, Swindon: National Trust, 2001, repr. 2009.

  3. For example in Anne Purchas, ‘A Building History of West Wycombe Park with a Catalogue of Architectural Drawings’, Masters thesis, London: Courtauld Institute, 1992; Anne Purchas, ‘Maurice-Louis Jolivet’s Drawings at West Wycombe Park’, Architectural History, no. 37, 1994, pp. 68–79.

  4. The discussion in this essay follows the sequence of drawings in the Select Catalogue.

  5. Colen Campbell, Vitruvius Britannicus, vols 1–3, London, 1715–25; John Badeslade and John Rocque, eds, vol. 4, London, 1739; John Woolfe and James Gandon, eds, vol. 5, London, 1767–71; repr. Vitruvius Britannicus: The Classic of Eighteenth-Century British Architecture, facsimile New York: Dover, 2007. West Wycombe is at vol. V pls 47–9. See Colvin, 1978, p. 326 for Donowell’s first appearance at the house.

  6. Donowell’s dismissal mentioned in a letter from John Tucker to Dashwood, 11 August 1764, Bodleian Library, Oxford: MS DD, Dashwood, C5/8.

  7. Cinzia Maria Sicca, ‘Lord Burlington at Chiswick: Architecture and Landscape’, Garden History, vol. 10, no. 1, 1982, p. 67 n. 13.

  8. Parissien, 1989, vol. 2, p. 165; Colvin, 1978, 709.

  9. On Dodington’s patronage see Angus MacNaghten, ‘A Vanished Thames-side Mansion, Brandenburg House, Hammersmith’, Country Life, vol. 146, 6 November 1969, pp. 1195–8; Clare Hornsby, ‘Antiquarian Extravagance in Hammersmith: The Sculpture Gallery of George “Bubb” Dodington’, Apollo, vol. 134, no. 358, December 1991, pp. 410–14; Clare Hornsby, ‘Neo-Classical Display in the Suburbs: Investigating George Bubb Dodington’s Patronage and Taste’, Georgian Group Journal, vol. 26, 2018, pp. 69–86.

  10. Steven Parissien, ‘Roger & Robert Morris’, doctoral thesis, 2 vols, Oxford: Oxford University, 1989, vol. 1, 109–10 nn. 1, 2; Jackson-Stops, 1984, 22, mentions C. J. Loudon who gave the whole house to Ware in a reference in the Encyclopedia of Gardening, 1826, which is the source for Parissien’s attribution to Ware.

  11. Amisfield House, Haddington, Lothian, now demolished: Isaac Ware, A Complete Body of Architecture,London: Osborne and Shipton, 1756, bk III, pl. 45.

  12. Jackson-Stops, 1984, 11.

  13. Bodleian, MSS DD Dashwood C5/11/1a, letter from John Tucker in Weymouth to Sir Francis Dashwood, 28 October 1754. See Peter Guillery, ‘Cavendish Square and Spencer House: Neoclassicism, Opportunity and Nostalgia’, The Georgian Group Journal, vol. 23, 2015, p. 83.

  14. In James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, Antiquities of Athens, 4 vols, London: Society of Dilettanti, 1762–94, vol. 4, p. xxxi, ‘Among various other buildings the following were designed by him: At Lord Le Despencer’s West Wycomb, the Eastern Portico, the Western Portico’.

  15. See Romney Sedgwick, History of Parliament, (accessed 25 November 2017).

  16. For Mereworth see Cinzia Maria Sicca, ‘Il Palladianesimo in Inghilterra’, in Anna della Valle, ed., Palladio: la sua eredità nel mondo, Milan: Electa, 1980, p. 60; H. Avray Tipping, ‘Mereworth Castle Kent I’, Country Life, vol. 47, 12 June 1920, pp. 808–16; II, vol. 47, 19 June 1920, pp. 876–83; III, vol. 47, 26 June 1920, pp. 912–19; Mark Girouard, ‘Palazzo among the Hop-Fields: Mereworth Castle in Kent’, Country Life Annual, 1966, pp. 28–36; Dorothy Stroud, ‘Four Palladian Villas: The Villa Capra, Vicenza, and its English Counterparts’, Country Life, vol. 104, 8 October 1948, pp. 728–31; Christopher Hussey, English Country Houses: Early Georgian 1715–1760, London: Country Life, 1955, p. 58.

  17. Parissien, 1989, 2, pls 133–5.

  18. See Clare Hornsby, ‘The Life and Work of Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni (1695–1766)’, doctoral thesis, Bristol: Bristol University, 1989, and Francesco Guidoboni, ‘Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni, 1695–1766 architetto’, doctoral thesis, 2 vols, Rome: Sapienza Università di Roma/Paris: Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2014.

  19. See illustration from G. Lemaigre de Stordeur, ‘Hingene’, in De Woonstede door de eeuwen heen, no. 51, Brussels, 1981, p. 52. Drawing now lost.

  20. Purchas, 1992, cat. 27, notes that these are intertwined letters, FSD, indicating the marriage of Francis and Sarah Dashwood in 1745.

  21. Such head jambs may be seen in the work of Jacques-Ange Gabriel in the 1730s and 40s, for example in Place Royale, Bordeaux.

  22. Giles Worsley, ‘The Baseless Roman Doric Column in Mid-Eighteenth-Century English Architecture: A Study in Neo-Classicism’, The Burlington Magazine, vol. 128, no. 998, May 1986, pp. 331–40.

  23. Knox, 2009, 10.

  24. Worsley, 1986, 331; Giles Worsley, ‘West Wycombe Park Bucks., the Seat of Sir Francis Dashwood and a Property of the National Trust’, Country Life, vol. 184, no. 36, 6 September 1990, pp. 112–17; Giles Worsley, Classical Architecture in Britain: The Heroic Age, New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1995, p. 143; Knox, 2009, 10.

  25. See A Description of the Machine for the Fireworks: With all its Ornaments . . . published by the Board of Ordnance, London, 1749. The performance was a fiasco and Servandoni returned to Paris temporarily: see Hornsby, 1989. The best published overview of the fireworks is by the renowned musicologist Christopher Hogwood: see his Feuerwerksmusik: The Music for the Royal Fireworks, Kassel: Bärenrieter-Verlag, 2004, introduction.

  26. Wittkower, 1974, p. 174.

  27. Richard Chandler, Nicholas Revett and William Pars, Ionian Antiquities I, 5 vols, London: Society of Dilettanti, 1769, ch. 1, pl. 1. See Jason M. Kelly, The Society of Dilettanti: Archaeology and Identity in the British Enlightenment, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009, p. 202.

  28. Kelly, 2009, p. 203.

  29. Ibid., p. 188.

  30. See Frances Sands, 2011 entry in Sir John Soane’s Museum Collection Online, (accessed 13 June 2017).

  31. See Francis Terry, writing as a contemporary neo-classical practitioner, (accessed 7 February 2017).

  32. Revett, 1769, vol. 1, ch. 1, pl. VI.

  33. Ibid., ch. 2, p. 19, pl. VII.

  34. Robert Wood, The Ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor, in the Desart, London, 1753, pl. XXXVII.

  35. Kelly, 2009, 203.

  36. The origin of the coffered ceiling with blue background and gold star ornament –uraniscus – may be from Stuart and Revett’s Antiquities of Athens, vol. , 1794, pl. XII and p. 73 discussing the Hephaestion (Temple of Theseus) at Athens: ‘the stars on the soffits of the lacunaria of the portico’.

  37. Vitruvius, The Ten Books on Architecture, ed. Morris Hickey Morgan, New York: Dover, 1960–98, Bk 6.7.1; the three-sided peristyle of the Greek house is, of course, not present at West Wycombe.

  38. Palladio’s Villa Pojana, Book 2, ch. 15, pl. 58; see Andrea Palladio, The Four Books on Architecture, ed. Robert Tavernor and Richard Schofield, Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2002, p. 136.

  39. Noted by Knox, 2009, p. 15.

  40. A handwritten note in the margin of Purchas, 1992, cat. 140.

  41. Tipping, ‘Mereworth Castle II’, p. 876; see Christine Casey, Making Magnificence: Artists, Stuccatori and the Eighteenth Century Interior, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2017, pp. 188–9.

  42. No examination of the interiors is possible: the house is private and access is out of the question.

  43. Bodleian, MS DD, Dashwood, C6/3, booklet of book lists marked ‘No. 2’.

  44. Bernard de Montfaucon, L’Antiquité expliquée et représentée en figures, 15 vols, Paris, 1719–24, Supplément, vol. 3, Paris, 1724, pl. LX; Adriano Aymonino, with Lucy Gwynn and Mirco Modolo, Paper Palaces: The Topham Collection as a Source for British Neo-Classicism, exh. cat., Eton: Eton College Press, 2013, p. 24, cat. 13.

  45. In general for the ceiling designs, see Worsley, 1990, p. 116 (the reference to Joseph Spence as means by which drawings arrived at Eton is unsubstantiated; Worsley, 1995, p. 151). See Adriano Aymonino, ‘Playing with the Canon: West Wycombe Park’s Iconography and the Principle of Citation’,LINK NEEDED in this case study for a full discussion of the interior decoration, including two ceilings in the house that were executed based on Bartoli drawings.

  46. Bodleian, MS DD, Dashwood, C5 and C6.

  47. Letter from Jean Monnet, the French theatre impresario in London, to the connoisseur Petit de Bachaumont, 18 January 1749, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Paris, MS 4041, ff. 629–30. See Robert S. Tate Jr, ‘Petit de Bachaumont: His Circle and the Mémoires Secrets’, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century (Geneva), vol. 65, 1968, p. 114, and ‘Bachaumont Revisited: Some Unpublished Papers and Correspondence’, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, vol. 84, 1971, pp. 265–6.

  48. Hornsby, 1989, ch. 2, p. 3; Guidoboni, 2014, vol. 1, p. 119.

  49. Michel Gallet and Monique Mosser, ‘Il Neoclassicismo o il vero Palladio riscoperto’, in Anna della Valle, ed., Palladio: la sua eredità nel mondo, Milan: Electa, 1980, p. 195. Claire Ollagnier, ‘Témoignage d’un bâti faubourien: La folie Le Prêtre de Neubourg, 1764–1766’, ArcHistoR, no. 3, 2016, n. 6.

  50. See Wend Graf Kalnein, Art and Architecture of the Eighteenth Century in France, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972, ills 268, 275, and Francesco Guidoboni and Clare Hornsby, ‘Un Pavillon palladien pour Sir Francis Dashwood’, Actes du colloque Servandoni, Paris: INHA, [2015] forthcoming.

  51. Joseph Rykwert, The First Moderns, Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1983, p. 196.

  52. Vitruvius Britannicus, 1715, vol. 3, p. 8 for measurements and pls 35–8.

  53. ‘An exact Account of the late magnificent Feast, given by English Factory at Lisbon, on their receiving the News of the decisive Victory of Culloden, gained by his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland over the Rebels’, Gentleman’s Magazine, no. 16, 1746, pp. 473–4.

  54. Bruno Pons, ‘Projects by Niccolò Servandoni for the House of Bouillon’, The Burlington Magazine, vol. 137, no. 1111, October 1995, pp. 674–82.

  55. Purchas, 1994, pp. 68–79 has been followed by Guillery, 2015, p. 81, and Jason M. Kelly, The Society of Dilettanti and the Planning of a Museum, 2012, (accessed 15 December 2017).

  56. Purchas, 1994, 76. A Louis Jolivet is included in Bénézit online, (accessed 4 March 2016), as having engraved the design for a firework display in Dijon in 1757. Guidoboni, 2014, vol. 1, p. 194 n. 89 cites only two projects drawn by him, one in Rome for a street widening in 1761 and one in Paris for the entrance to the market of Saint Martin in 1766.

  57. London: Society of Antiquaries, Society of Dilettanti D. MSS 1/105; Purchas, 1994, 74; Kelly, 2009, p. 146.

  58. Letter from François II Franque in Paris to his son Jean-Pierre, 16 December 1749, Bibliothèque Municipale d’Avignon, MS 1296, ff. 22–3: ‘Monsieur Servandonis est de retour d’Angleterre aussi pauvre que quand il est parti de Paris et a laissé d’aussi grandes dettes dans ce pais là comme il avait fait ici’. Servandoni seems to have gone back to France definitively in 1751; see Guidoboni, 2014, vol. 1, p. 194 n. 88 and p. 191.

  59. This design could also have fitted the plan of the Grand Council Room, as referred to by Guillery, 2015, 79.

  60. This house is well served by scholars: see Colvin, 1978, 334; Hugh Philipps, Mid-Georgian London: A Topographical and Social Survey of Central and Western London, London: Collins, 1964, pp. 301–2; John Summerson, Georgian London, New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2003, p. 88; Edward Walford, ‘Hanover Square and Neighbourhood’, Old and New London, vol. 4, London, 1878, pp. 314–26, online (accessed 16 March 2016); Sutton Nicholls (engraver), A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, London: Stowe’s Survey, 1754–55, pl. 19.

  61. Colvin, 1978, has the house as no. 18; the map in Philipps, 1964, has no. 16; on the Witt Library photograph it is described as ‘no. 18 now 22’.

  62. Frances Sands in Sir John Soane’s Museum Collection Online, (accessed 11 September 2016).

  63. See Charles-Louis Clérisseau’s magnificent but ultimately failed project to examine the complete antique sites of France: Antiquités de la France, par M. Clérisseau, architecte . . . Premiere partie, Monumens de Nismes, Paris: Philippe-Denys Pierres, 1778.

  64. The temple at Pola is ch. 27 and the Temple of Diana at Nîmes is ch. 29, a few pages after. There is another drawing in the collection labelled in French but in a slightly different hand, ‘Coupe du stylobate marque 4 sur le plan general’: the design detail does not relate to the plan of this temple and differs from the stylobate details as given in Palladio.

  65. Attributions confirmed by Tim Knox in manuscript notes in Purchas, 1992, cats 180–90.

  66. See John McAndrew, Catalogue of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects: Antonio Visentini, London: RIBA, 1974.

  67. The account of the journey written by Joseph Woods in Stuart and Revett, 1762–94, vol. 3, p. xxviii, includes a transcription of a letter to his father written in the summer of 1748. See also John Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–1800: Compiled from the Brinsley Ford Archive, New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1997, p. 808.

  68. Phyllis Pray Bober, Renaissance Artists and Antique Sculpture, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 130.

  69. In addition to these is a print dated 1745 by John Rocque of Wanstead House, from the Environs of London, and, as one would expect, prints by William Woolett of some of the William Hannan paintings of the landscaped park around the house, dating from c.1757.

  70. See discussion of the Eastbury triumphal arch in John Harris, ‘An English Neo-Palladian Episode and its Connections with Visentini in Venice’, Architectural History, vol. 27, 1984, pp. 231–40, and Hornsby, 2018, p. 77.

  71. Élevation du Grand Portail de l’église Saint Sulpice de Paris, bâti sur les desseins et sous la conduite du S.r Servandoni, de l’Ordre Militaire de Christ, et Membre de l’Académie Royale de Paris. Servandony architectus, Ravenet Sculp., Published according to Act of Parliament July 1750, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Va266a H46378.

  72. For Ravenet, see Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (accessed 15 October 2016).

  73. Hussey, 1955, p. 234.

  74. For the use of ‘neo-antique’ see David Watkin, The Classical Country House, London: Aurum Press, 2010, p. 65.



by Clare Hornsby
20 November 2020
House Essay
CC BY-NC International 4.0
Cite as
Clare Hornsby, "The House and the Drawings Collection at West Wycombe Park: Dashwood's Educated Taste", Art and the Country House,