English baroque architect, dramatist, and soldier. Although entirely untrained as an architect, he designed the huge mansions of Castle Howard (1699–1726), Blenheim (1705–16; completed by Nicholas Hawksmoor 1722–25), Seaton Delaval (1720–29), and many others, as well as much of Greenwich Hospital (1718 onwards). He also wrote the comic dramas The Relapse (1696) and The Provok'd Wife (1697).
Life He was imprisoned in the Bastille in Paris 1688–93 as a political hostage during the war between France and the Grand Alliance (including Britain). In 1704 Vanbrugh built his own theatre, the Queen's Theatre or Italian Opera House in the Haymarket, London (now destroyed). From this point playwriting displaced architecture as his principal activity. Vanbrugh was controller of Her Majesty's (Queen Anne's) Works (1702–13). He was knighted in 1714.
Vanbrugh as an architect There is no evidence that Vanbrugh learned formal architectural draughtsmanship. He often called upon Nicholas Hawksmoor, whose professional advice was utilized for all Vanbrugh's major buildings. Hawksmoor helped to develop the architectural style that Vanbrugh made his own, which drew on French, English, and Italian sources. Essentially baroque, this style manipulated to the full the interplay of recession and projection.
Vanbrugh as a playwright His plays, which also include The False Friend (1702), and The Confederacy (1705), are distinguished by their wit and skill of situation. Vanbrugh was a master of satire, which he used with great effect against the Puritans in The Relapse. An edition of the Complete Works in four volumes was published in 1927, the dramas edited by B Dobree and the letters by G Webb.
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