Robert Smirke (architect)
Sir Robert Smirke (1781-18 April 1876) was an English
Smirke was the son of portrait painter Robert Smirke, and studied
architectureas a pupil of classical architect John Soanein 1796, the same year he commenced his studies at the Royal Academy. He also studied and travelled in southern Europefor several years.
Smirke designed public buildings in the classical style, among the most famous being those still standing in London, including:
Royal Mint, Tower Hill (1809);
* the main block and facade of the
British Museum, Bloomsbury (1823-31);
Royal College of Physiciansbuilding in Trafalgar Square(now known as Canada House) (1824-27);
* the east wing of
Somerset House, and the adjacent King's (formerly Smirke) Building of King's College London, on the Strand (1831).
Of those no longer extant, he also designed:
* the second incarnation of the Covent Garden Theatre, now the
Royal Opera House(1808-9, but destroyed by fire in 1857),
* the General Post Office building in St Martins-le-Grand in the
City of London(1825-1829, but demolished c. 1910).
His buildings outside London included the Shire Halls of
Gloucester, Shrewsbury, Herefordand the Old Council House, Bristol.
Domestic buildings include alterations to
Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire, and Hardwicke Court, near Gloucester. His domestic buildings in the neo-Gothicstyle include Lowther Castlein Cumbria, his first job in 1806 when he was 25, and Eastnor Castle, Ledbury, Herefordshire, designed in the early 19th century.
Together with John Nash and Sir
John Soane, he became official architect to the Office of Worksin 1813. He advised the Parliamentary Commissioners on the building of new Churches from 1818 onwards, contributing four himself, including St George, Brandon Hillin Bristol.
He was knighted in 1832, and received the RIBA
Royal Gold Medalfor Architecture in 1853.
His brothers were also notable -
Sydney Smirkewas also an architect, best known for the circular reading room at the British Museum, and Edward Smirkewas a lawyer and antiquarian.
Robert Smirke lived at 81 Charlotte Street, London. A
blue plaquecommemorating his residence is situated on the exterior of the building. He died in Cheltenhamon 18 April 1867.
* H.M. Colvin, "A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840" (1997) ISBN 0-300-07207-4
* [http://www.visitcumbria.com/robsmirk.htm Smirke's work in Cumbria]
* [http://www.eastnorcastle.com/history.htm Eastnor Castle, designed by Robert Smirke]
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