James Wyatt arrived in Italy from Staffordshire in 1762, a 16-year-old prodigy. He spent two years in Venice and then went on to Rome. Such was young Wyatt’s evident promise that the esteemed Piranesi gave him a full, ten-volume set of his works. On Wyatt’s return to London in 1768 he was polished, educated and supremely well connected. He also had an enormous commission in his pocket.
The Pantheon on Oxford Street is one of the most significant lost buildings of 18th-century London. It was a Wyatt family enterprise, designed by James, built by his brother Samuel, and with the finances entrusted to a third brother. Their patronage appears to have stemmed from a family of Staffordshire