MY FATHER HAS often told me of the bl ack sheep in the family, whose maltreatment of his unfortunate wife, the eldest daughter of the Earl of Burlington, drove her to an ea rly d ea th, thu s depriving his descendants of Burlington's superl ative art coll ec tion , including the finest drawings of Inigo Jones. However, I can partially make up for this loss by walking half a mile north from my ho use to enjoy a superb view ofJones's handsome pavilions at Stoke Park, one of his very few country house commissions.
Jones remains one of th e most difficult of all the great British artists to evaluate truly. As Michael Leapman's fine biography makes clear, he suffered from two major handicaps: his ca reer covered the period of un ce rtain ty leading up to the Civil War, a very unpropitious moment to earn important arc hitectural conunissions; and James I and Charl es I, his two greatest patrons, preferred to concentrate his talents on Jo11es: 1111diplo111atic the crea tion of masqu es. Much of Leapman's book is devoted to fasc inating descriptions of th ese masques, which were designed for the rarefied and idealised world