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George III's Architectural Designs

Architecture was a lifelong interest for George III, and the majority of his surviving drawings are related to this subject. Sir William Chambers (1726 – 96) served as the future George III’s tutor in architecture, with lessons on three days as week, from the 1750s, when Chambers was employed at Kew as architect to the young Prince’s mother, Augusta, Princess of Wales (1719 – 72). As well as drawing during his lessons with Chambers, George III made his own architectural drawings and designs. The finished drawing of a pedimented Corinthian temple is the only surviving example of a design by George III for a documented – though unexecuted – building, intended for Kew. The numerous compass points (visible down the centre, across the base of the temple, and in the column to left of centre) indicate the painstaking construction of the drawing. The drawing was engraved as one of the plates included at the end of Chambers’ Treatise of Civil Architecture (1759), in which it was entitled Design for a Corinthian Temple for Erection at Kew. The 1791 edition of Chambers’ Treatise reveals that the original drawing was ‘made for Her late Royal Highness the Princess Dowager of Wales and proposed to be erected in the gardens at Kew’. It is not known why the building designed by George III was not realised, but his accession to the throne in 1760 could have diverted attention away from the project.

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