Campbell, Colen

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Campbell, Colen (1676–1729). Scottish lawyer and landowner who became one of the leaders of Palladianism and one of the most distinguished figures in English C18 architecture. His metamorphosis into architect is shrouded in obscurity, but he does seem to have had some association with the Scots architect James Smith, and may have been taught by him. Campbell's first (and most important) house in England was Wanstead, Essex (c.1714–20, demolished 1820), the precedent for large Classical country-houses of virtually the whole Georgian period. In 1715 Campbell published the first volume of Vitruvius Britannicus, which promoted the virtues of ‘Antique Simplicity’ as opposed to ‘affected and licentious’ Baroque architecture, lauded the ‘renowned Palladio’ and the ‘famous Inigo Jones’, and advertised Campbell's own expertise as an architect, in much the same way as Palladio had publicized his architecture in Quattro Libri (1570).

In 1718 Campbell was appointed Chief Clerk and Deputy Surveyor-General under William Benson, but in the following year Campbell and Benson were both removed from office, which precluded the possibility of the Palladian Revival being led from within the Office of Works. However, Campbell became architect to George Augustus, Prince of Wales (1683–1760), in 1719, and was also appointed by Lord Burlington to re-fashion his town-house in Piccadilly in the Palladian style. Subsequently, Burlington transferred his favours to Flitcroft and Kent, dropping Campbell, but the last had no shortage of rich and influential patrons, attracted, no doubt, by his sumptuous Vitruvius Britannicus, the second and third volumes of which appeared in 1717 and 1725. They contained illustrations of all his designs, and he addressed many projects to eminent Whigs: he even dedicated volume i to King George I (1714–27).

Campbell's patrons included Sir Robert Walpole (1676–1745), for whom he designed Houghton Hall, Norfolk (begun 1722); Henry Hoare (1705–85), for whom he built Stour-head, Wilts. (c.1720–4); and many others. Newby (now Baldersby) Park, Yorks (1720–8), was an important precedent for the neo-Palladian villa, while Mereworth Castle, Kent (c.1722–5), was a distinguished version of Palladio's Villa Capra at Vicenza. Campbell was the designer of many of the most important buildings of the whole Palladian movement, and in the decade after the publication of volume 1 of Vitruvius Britannicus he created many models from which the English Palladian Revival evolved.

In 1726 Campbell was appointed Surveyor of Greenwich Hospital in succession to Vanbrugh. He brought out a version of the first book of Palladio's Quattro Libri in 1728, which was revised in 1729 and published as The Five Orders of Architecture with five extra plates featuring some of his own designs.


C. Campbell (1728–9, 1967–72);
Colvin (1995);
Colvin & and J. Harris (1970);
E. Harris (1990);
Stutchbury (1967);
Summerson (ed.) (1993);
Jane Turner (1996)