Born in 1573, Inigo Jones is regarded as the most important architect of English classicism. Little is known about his early years, but it is considered certain that he spent many years in Italy.
There he studied in detail the works of antiquity and Italian Renaissance architecture, especially the work of the “first great professional architect” Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, who went down in architectural history under the name of Palladio.
In 1615, under James I, Jones was appointed “Surveyor of the King´s Works”, i.e. the general director of all aspects of the Court’s architecture.
His work meant the final liberation of English architecture from the chains of the late medieval tradition, which he renewed in a classicist sense, the so-called Palladianism.
The Banqueting House, the only surviving building of the Whitehall Palace, which burnt down in 1698 (since 1530 the main residence of the British monarchs in London), was commissioned by James I. The king wanted a new, prestigious building after demolishing the first hall and destroying the second by fire.
With this building London received its first classicist building and Inigo Jones founded the so-called Palladianism.
The whole building radiates classicist austerity and monumental dignity. In order not to affect the uniformity of the main view, the entrance portal was moved to the side of the house.
The façade of the two-storey building is divided by pilasters, i.e. load-bearing pillars of Ionic/Corinthian construction. The three central windows are accentuated by columns somewhat more than the windows next to them, which are limited only by simple formal elements.
Inside, the building consists of a single banqueting hall with the famous ceiling paintings by Peter Paul Rubens.
With this building and his subsequent work, Jones aroused great enthusiasm for Palladio’s architecture and theoretical writings, which lasted until the 18th century.