Musée No:737.146Regular price $32.33
Corsham Court, Wiltshire : Elevation of the North Front
Artist: John Nash
Date: ca. 1797
John Nash (1752-1865) was one of the most famous architects of the Regency and Georgian Periods and designed a significant portion of Regency London. He has an incredibly impressive list of work including Marble Arch, Buckingham Palace, Royal Pavilion in Brighton and Regent Street to name but a few. Son of a Welsh millwright he started his career as a surveyor, builder and carpenter and by 1777 he had set up his architectural practice. He married in 1775 but in 1778 "By the ill conduct of his wife found it necessary to send her into Wales in order to work a reformation on her” – she was charged with faking two pregnancies and trying to pass off two babies she had ‘acquired’ as his and also of having milliners’ debts of £300 (around £50,000 in today’s money), quite a hat fetish. He divorced her in 1787. His career didn’t start well and he was declared bankrupt in 1783 owing £5000 (just over £750000 in 2020). He left London for self-imposed ‘exile’ in Wales in 1784 where he met and worked with Humprey Repton, the famous landscape garden designer.
By 1797, Nash had re-established himself in London, where he lived glamorously and married again. With a clientele of nouveau riche bankers and merchants, as well as gentry and minor nobility, he built or remodelled 40 houses, ranging from sophisticated Thames-side villas to Picturesque country seats. In 1806 he was appointed architect to the Surveyor General of Woods, Forests, Parks, and Chases.
From 1810 Nash would take very few private commissions and for the rest of his career he would largely work for the Prince which allowed him to embark upon a number of grand architectural projects. Nash's career ended with the death of George IV in 1830. The King's notorious extravagance had generated much resentment, and Nash was now without a protector. The Treasury started to look closely at the cost of Buckingham Palace. Nash's original estimate of the building's cost had been £252,690, but the actual cost was £613,269 (~£69.5 million in 2020 money), and the building was still unfinished. This controversy ensured that Nash would not be awarded the Knighthood that other contemporary architects such as Jeffry Wyattville and Robert Smirke received. Nash retired to the Isle of Wight and died in 1865 owing nearly 2 million in today’s money.