ITEM: Christopher Wren's buildings, in The Illustrated London News, 15 October 1932, 13x10 inches. Very good condition. $35
In a short line of my favorite English Baroque architect/masters, there is no superior to Sir Christopher Wren, and there is no second. Granted my interest in him comes ‘round the back door, through the almost-eternally-fabulous Robert Hooke (one of the great master British scientists of the 17th century and to whom nearly everyone owes some debt, a genius of great difficult and whose maligned reputation is somewhat deserved) who assisted/worked with Wren for a time after the Great Fire.
Hooke (1635-1703) and Wren share a big Something–they were both capable of great thinking across many fields and disciplines As a matter of fact Wren (1632-1723) received a formal scientific training and was a gifted astronomer and mathematician in addition to being perhaps the most-gifted architect in the history of England. To give the devil his due, though, few people could touch the depth and breath of Hooke’s incredible interests, or match the phenomenal diversity of his productions. (He has been referred to, justifiably, as “England’s Leonardo” by Alan Chapman in his 2005 book o the same name. If it wasn’t Hooke as Leonardo, I don’t know who else it might be.) Wren as it turns out was also a founder of the Royal Society and acted as its president from 1680-1682–a Society to which Hooke was deeply devoted, and which was probably kept alive by his efforts.
When you look at Wren’s accomplishments writ large, all drawn together in this reproduction, you can really appreciate the great spectrum of his building career--not the list of which includes the iconic St. Paul's, featured, looming, in rear center. Some people are able to place their accomplishments in great bumps on the horizion; some give you the opportunity to see or visualize them; some help you understand how those things are held together; and some give you the horizon. Wren's accomplishments are definitely very pretty horizon-blockers. [This image is available for purchase from our blog bookstore.]