Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Leoni, Giacomo

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LEONI, GIACOMO (1686–1746), architect, was a Venetian, and held the post of architect to the elector palatine. He settled in England at the beginning of the eighteenth century, having probably been brought over by Richard Boyle, earl of Burlington, to assist in the publication of Palladio's ‘Architecture’ in English. The plates for the work were prepared afresh by Leoni. The book was published, London, 1715, 1721, 1725; the Hague, 1726 (in French); London, 1742. Leoni translated into English Alberti's ‘De re Ædificatoria,’ and published it with C. Bartoli's Italian translation, and plates of his own designs. It appeared as ‘The Architecture of Leon Battista Alberti,’ &c., in London in 1726, 1739, 1751, 1755 (the last edition is in English only). The books on painting and statuary were separately published (English and Italian) in 1741, with many of the plates drawn by Leoni. His first work was Bramham Park, near Leeds in Yorkshire, built for Lord Bingley, 1710, partly destroyed by fire in 1865. Moor Park, Hertfordshire, 1720, Leoni's greatest work, was built at great expense, on the site of the original brick mansion by Wren, for B. H. Styles, esq.; the wings with the chapel were taken down between 1789 and 1799. In 1721 he designed Queensberry House in Old Burlington Street for the Duke of Queensberry and Dover (rebuilt in 1790–2); in 1725 Latham House, Lancashire, for Sir Thomas Booth; in 1723–1732 the south front of Lyme Hall, Cheshire, for Peter Legh, esq., with alterations in the existing building; in 1730 Bold Hall, Lancashire, for Peter Bold, esq.; in 1732 Clandon Park, Surrey, for the Earl of Onslow; in 1740 Burton or Bodecton Park, Sussex, for R. Biddulph, esq.; and Moulsham Park, Essex, for Benjamin, earl Fitz-Walter, which was demolished about 1810. Leoni died 8 June 1746, aged 60, and was buried in Old St. Pancras churchyard. He left a widow, Mary, and two sons, John Philip and Joseph. He made no will, and appears to have died in poor circumstances.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Dict. of Architecture; Walpole's Anecdotes (Wornum and Dallaway), pp. 767–8; Lysons's Environs, iii. 355, for inscription on Leoni's tomb; Langley's London Prices, 1748, p. xi. For descriptions and plans of buildings mentioned, see Allen's York, iii. 313; Neale's Seats, ii. v. 2nd ser. i.; Repository of Arts, 1825 p. 127, 1828 p. 126; Wright's Essex, i. 87; Dallaway and Cartwright's Western Sussex, ii. 283; Aikin's Manchester, pp. 316, 440; Campbell's Vitruvius Britannicus (Woolfe), ii. 81–2 (and Gandon), iv. 30–1, 94–8, v. 50–5; Brayley's Surrey, ii. 60, iv. 66; Wheatley's Piccadilly, p. 74; Morris's Seats, v. 53; Morant's Essex, ii. 3; Twycross's Mansions, iii. 16–20, 27, v. 92–8; Ralph's Critical Review of Buildings, pp. 194–5; Admin. Act Book, June 1746.]

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