Sir John Vanbrugh: Storyteller in Stonev by Vaughan Hart - review by John Martin Robinson

John Martin Robinson

Of Arms and Architecture

Sir John Vanbrugh: Storyteller in Stonev


Yale University Press 288pp £35

The great architects of the age of Baroque came in threes. There were Bernini, Borromini and Pietro da Cortona in Rome; Juvarra, Guarini and Vittone in Turin; Fischer von Erlach, Johann von Hildebrandt and Jakob Prandtauer in Vienna; and, of course, our own Wren, Hawksmoor and Vanbrugh in London. The Trinitarian character of these architects was emphasised by the way each of them encapsulated a particular aspect of architectural genius. In the case of Wren, his work was an expression of mathematical skill; with Hawksmoor, a passionate evocation of the classical past; and in the case of Vanbrugh, ‘storytelling in stone’, as Vaughan Hart describes it in this interesting new biography.

Hart, who is Professor of Architecture at the University of Bath, has also written fascinating books about Serlio, Palladio and Hawksmoor. Now it is Vanbrugh’s turn. Let us hope he next tackles Wren in the same original and lively manner.

His latest book deals with Vanbrugh from a new and convincing

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