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Chiswick House Review
Completed in 1729 by the 3rd earl of Burlington (also known for Burlington House—home of the Royal Academy—and Burlington Arcade on Piccadilly), this extraordinary Palladian mansion was envisaged as a kind of temple to the arts. Burlington was fascinated by the architecture he saw in Italy while on the Grand Tour as a young man. When his country home was destroyed by fire in 1725, he seized the chance to rebuild it in homage to those classical and Renaissance styles. The building is loosely modeled on the Villa Capra near Vicenza, while the colonnaded frontage is a partial replica of the Pantheon in Rome (which also inspired the domed roof).
The sumptuous interiors were the work of William Kent (1685–1748), his most extraordinary achievement being the Blue Velvet Room, with its gilded decoration and intricate painted ceiling. The design of Chiswick House sparked a great deal of interest—such ideas were radical in England at the time—and you'll see its influence reflected in numerous later buildings. The rambling gardens are one of the hidden gems of West London. Italianate in style (of course), they are filled with classical temples, statues, and obelisks. Also on the grounds are a café and a children's play area.
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