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Joseph Gandy

An Architectural Visionary in Georgian England

Brian Lukacher


The first biography of Joseph Gandy, one of the most original figures of English romanticism


Joseph Gandy’s life is in many respects the familiar saga of genius unrecognized. Upon his death he seemed to the world, and to himself, a failure. Having begun his career with high hopes, great imagination and exceptional talent, he ended it in a state of neglect and obscurity.

That was in 1843. A century and a half later Gandy is recognized as one of the most original figures of English romanticism.

Works such as his unearthly Pandemonium or his luminous Tomb of Merlin have a hypnotic power that no other artist could surpass – a power that he brought to bear on Sir John Soane’s bizarre ‘Monk’s Parlour’ at his renowned house-musuem in Lincoln’s Inn and on the lost masterpiece of Soane’s Bank of England in the City of London, buildings that we have come to see through Gandy’s eyes.

Brian Lukacher, the acknowledged authority on Gandy, has now written the definitive life of this architect-artist who exemplified the cultural temper of the romantic period. It is a fresh, deeply researched biography and a critical assessment of Gandy’s work in its historical context. It is a tragic story but also an inspiring one, and a significant episode in the history of the architectural imagination and the visual arts during the nineteenth century.

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'Lifts the veil on our greatest architectural artist'
RA Magazine

'Lukacher gives flesh to the bones of this visionary romanticist, and compellingly chronicles his decline and fall'
RIBA Journal

'A tremendous achievement … a noble publication … Full credit to Thames & Hudson'
State of Art

'A stifled genius finally receives his due'
Evening Standard

'It’s good to have Gandy back from the dead'
New Statesman

'Excellent … Gandy lived for posterity, and this book does him justice'
Country Life

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 28.0 x 25.0 cm

Extent: 224 pp

Illustrations: 205

Publication date: 20 March 2006

ISBN: 9780500342213

Contents List

Chapter 1 traces his early training and foreign travel; Chapter 2 his obsession with sepulchres and monuments; Chapter 3 his doomed efforts to be an architect; Chapter 4 the huge canvases in which he sought to recreate the classical world; Chapter 5 his partnership with Soane, who owed him so much; and Chapter 6 his eccentric and finally demented quest to construct a unified theory of the history of architecture.

About the Author

Brian Lukacher is professor of art at Vassar College. He is the co-author, with Stephen F. Eisenman and others, of Nineteenth Century Art, also published by Thames & Hudson.