JONES (Nino), an eminent architect, was the son of a clothworker in London, and was born in that city about 1572.
Scarcely any thing is known of the man ner in which he passed his early years, but it is probable that he enjoyed few ad vantages of education, and was destined to a mechanical employment. He dis played, however, a talent for the fine arts, which attracted the notice of some lords about the court, among whom were the Earls of Arundel and Pembroke. The lat ter of these noblemen has generally the credit of becoming his patron, and send ing him into Italy for the purpose of per fecting himself in landscape painting, to which his genius seemed first to point. He took up his residence chiefly at Venice, where the works of Palladio gave him a turn to the study of architecture, which branch of art he made his profession. He acquired a reputation in that city, which procured him an invitation from Christian IV. King of Denmark, to come and occu py the post of his first architect. He was some years in the service of that sove reign, whom he accompanied, in 16A, on a visit to his brother in law, King James, and, expressing a desire of remaining in his native country, he was appointed ar chitect to the queen. He served Prince Henry in the same capacity, and obtained a grant in reversion of the place of Sur veyor General of the works. After the death of the Prince, Jones again visited Italy, where he pursued farther improve-, ment during some years. When the Sur veyor's place fell, he returned to occupy the office, and finding the Board of Works much in debt, he relinquished his own dues, and prevailed upon the Comptrol ler and Paymaster to do the same, till all arrears were cleared.
The King, in 1620, set him a task bet ter suited to a man of learning than an artist ; which was to exercise his ingenui ty in conjecturing the founders and the purpose of that remarkable remain of an tiquity, Stonehenge. Jones, whose ideas were all Roman, convinced himself that it ought to be ascribed to that people, and wrote a treatise to prove his point ; but of all the guesses relative to that struc ture, this has least obtained the concur rence ofsound antiquarians. At that time he was building the banquetting-house at Whitehall, which was meant only as a pa vilion to a splendid palace intended to be erected, and of which there exists a mag nificent design from his ideas. The ban quetting.house subsists, a model of the pure and elegant taste of the architect. He was in that reign appointed a commis sioner for repairing the Cathedral of St. Paul's, which office, as well as his other posts, were continued to him under Charles I. The entertainments, called
masques, introduced by James's queen, Anne of Denmark, and in vogue during the gay part of the succeeding reign, gave Jones frequent employment in the inven tion of the scenery and decorations. The poetical composer of most of these pieces was Ben Jonson, between whom and Jones a violent quarrel took place, pro ductive of much virulent abuse, in detes table verse, on the part of the testy bard. It appears that the architect, too, was a dabbler in poetry, which, perhaps, might be the occasion of the difference between them.
The repairs of St. Paul's did not com mence till 1633. Of our architect's per formar.ce in this business, Mr. Walpole thus speaks : "In the restoration of that cathedral, he made two capital faults. He first renewed the sides with very bad Gothic, and then added a Roman portico, magnificent and beautiful indeed, but which had no affinity with the ancient parts that remained, and made his own Gothic appear ten times heavier. He committed the same error at Winchester, thrusting a screen, in the Roman or Gre cian taste, into the middle of that cathe dral. Jones, indeed, was by no means suc cessful when he attempted Gothic." He had much employment, both from the court and among the nobility, and realized a handsome fortune, which was diminish ed by sufferings during the troubles which succeeded. He was obnoxious, both as a favourite of his royal master, and as a Ro man Catholic. The first attack made up on him was in 1640, when he was called before the House of Lords, on a com plaint of the parishioners of St. Gregory's, for demolishing part of their church, in order to make room for his additions to St. Paul's. In 1646 he was obliged to pay 3451. by way of composition as a ma lignant.
The king's death greatly affected him; and he died, worn down by grief and misfortune, in July, 1651. He is said to have been a skilful geometrician, and to have been well acquainted with various branches of knowledge. He was certain ly the greatest English architect previous to Sir Christopher Wren. His designs with the pen were highly valued by Van dyke. A collection of them was engraved and published by Mr. Kent, in two vo lumes folio, 1727, and some lesser designs in 1744. Others were published in 1743, 4to. by Mr. Ware. A copy of Palladio's Architecture, with manuscript notes by Jones, is in the library of Worcester Col lege, Oxford. Mr. Walpole has given a catalogue of th e principal buildings erect ed and decorated by this architect.