Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

  • Drawing
    Sir William Chambers, born 1723 - died 1796
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    Britain (probably, made)

  • Date:

    18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sir William Chambers, born 1723 - died 1796 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink, pencil and blue washes

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case A, shelf 229

Plan of the grotto of the Villa del Pigneto by leading architect and designer Sir William Chambers (1723-1796). Chambers was born in Sweden and died in London. He travelled widely, visiting China, and studied architecture at the Ecole des Arts, Paris, from 1749 and in Italy from 1750 to 1755. Many of his drawings from this period are contained in his important 'Franco-Italian' album, held in the V&A. Chambers moved to London in 1755 and published his influential Treatise on Civil Architecture in 1759. Chambers demonstrated the breadth of his style in buildings such as Gower (later Carrington) House and Melbourne House, London, in such country houses as Duddingston, Scotland, and in the garden architecture he designed for Wilton House, Wiltshire, and at Kew Gardens. He became head of government building in 1782, and in this capacity built Somerset House, London.

Physical description

Plan of the grotto of the Villa del Pigneto.

Place of Origin

Britain (probably, made)


18th century (made)


Sir William Chambers, born 1723 - died 1796 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink, pencil and blue washes


Height: 456 mm, Width: 357 mm

Object history note

Bought from Parsons

Historical context note

The Villa del Pigneto was designed for the Sacchetti family by Pietro da Cortona. Built on a wooded site just behind St Peter's between 1626 and 1636, it was Cortona's first major commission. Chambers has drawn a section of the recessed entrance to the villa at the top, the rooms under the terrace in front and below, and, at the bottom, the grotto with its fountain. The villa is shown as a picturesque ruin. While this treatment fits in with the then novel idea of showing sound buildings in ruin (see cat. 628), it may also reflect the decayed state of the Villa at the time Chambers drew it (Blunt 1982, fig.89). For a sketch plan of the grotto see cat.380.

Descriptive line

Plan of the grotto of the Villa del Pigneto, 18th century, by Sir William Chambers (1723-1796).

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Snodin, M. Sir William Chambers. London: V&A Publications, 1996.


Pen and ink; Pencil; Blue wash


Drawing; Painting

Subjects depicted

Grotto; Plan; Villas


Designs; Drawings; Architecture

Production Type



Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.