VANBRUGH, John
(b. 1664, London, d. 1726, London)

Interior view

1705-22
Photo
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

The palace is entered through a clerestoried Great Hall, from where the staircase leads to the upper floors. Beyond the Hall is the Saloon, with a musicians' gallery above. To either side of it extend symmetrical suites of state apartments consisting of antechamber, drawing-room and bed-chamber; together with the Saloon, these occupy the entire south front. Along the west front of the house runs the Long Gallery (intended as a picture gallery but completed as a library); to the east were the family apartments, designed on a more domestic scale.

The interior decoration and fittings were lavishly executed. Door- and window-frames are of marble, with architectural carvings by Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721) in an uncharacteristically restrained classical style appropriate to the great proportions of the rooms. The ceiling of the Great Hall was painted with an allegory of the Duke presenting a plan of the Battle of Blenheim to Britannia (1716) by James Thornhill in his continental Baroque style. The walls and ceiling of the Saloon were decorated (c. 1720) by Louis Laguerre (1663-1721), the former painted as an illusionistic composition of a colonnade open to the sky, from behind which figures representing the four continents look into the room. In the Gallery and Hall hung works by Titian, Rubens and Raphael, while the state suites were hung with Brussels tapestries, including a set of ten 'Victories' depicting the Duke's campaigns (in situ). There are said to be 187 rooms in the main building.

The photo shows the Long Gallery.