Yale Center for British Art
Thomas Forster, ca. 1677–after 1712, British
Banqueting House, Whitehall: Front Elevation
Materials & Techniques:
Graphite, pen and brown ink, and gray wash on medium, slightly textured, beige wove paper
Sheet: 10 3/8 x 14 inches (26.4 x 35.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Gallery Label:
Inigo Jones designed and built the Banqueting House between 1618 and 1622 under the patronage of King James I, the first building in England to be built in a fully classical vocabulary. Taking inspiration from the Italian architects Andrea Palladio (1508–1580) and Vincenzo Scamozzi (1552–1616), Jones’s Banqueting House formed part of the palace of Whitehall, the principal residence of the English monarchs. Despite its name it was not a venue for feasting but for the annual court masques, elaborate theatrical productions combining music, dance, and complex scenery, much of which was also designed by Jones. After James I’s death, his son Charles I commissioned the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens to decorate the building’s ceiling with allegorical paintings glorifying the House of Stuart. With the ceiling completed in 1635, the Banqueting House formed the ideological heart of the monarchy of Charles I. It was one of the few parts of the palace to survive a disastrous fire in 1698 and in the eighteenth century was beloved by the neo-Palladian architects, becoming the benchmark for architectural purity. As the philosopher James Forrester put it: “That true Politeness we can only call, Which looks like Jones’s fabric at Whitehall; Where just proportion we with pleasure see; tho’ built by rule, yet from all stiffness free.” This precise elevation was drawn by Thomas Forster, an artist better known for his plumbago miniatures on vellum, perhaps copying it from a print by William Skillman (BM 1880,1113.2681) Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2014