Jones was the first notable English architect, responsible for introducing the classical architecture of Rome and the Italian Renaissance to Britain.
Jones was born shortly before 19 July 1573, the date of his baptism in Smithfield, London, the son of a cloth worker. Almost nothing is known about his early life or education. He certainly travelled abroad at the end of the century, probably at the expense of a patron, and was very influenced by the work of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio. In the early 1600s, Jones was employed by the wife of James I, Queen Anne, to provide costumes and settings for a masque at court, something he continued to do even after he started receiving architectural commissions. His first-known building was the New Exchange in the Strand in London, designed in 1608 for the Earl of Salisbury. In 1611, Jones was appointed surveyor of works to Henry, Prince of Wales but the young prince died in 1612. In 1613, Jones left England to visit Italy again. A year after his return, he was appointed surveyor to the king, a position he held until 1643,
His first important task as surveyor was to build a residence at Greenwich for the queen - the Queen's House. It was begun in 1617, but work was suspended at her death in 1619 and only completed in 1635. In 1619, the old Banqueting House at Whitehall Palace burned down and Jones began work on a new one. It was completed in 1622 and in 1635, an allegorical painting for its ceiling was commissioned from Rubens. Jones also worked on the restoration of St Paul's Cathedral, adding a magnificent portico to the west end (the whole cathedral was lost in the Great Fire of London). At Covent Garden, Jones created London's first 'square' (1630) on land developed by the fourth earl of Bedford, and designed the church of St Paul, inspired by Palladio.
With the outbreak of the English Civil War and the seizure of the king's properties, Jones' employment as surveyor came to an end. In 1645, he was at the siege and burning by Parliamentarian forces of Basing House in Hampshire. He may have been arrested and his property was confiscated by parliament but restored a year later. Jones died on 21 June 1652.
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