Boyle, Richard, third Earl of Burlington and fourth Earl of Cork 1695-1753, celebrated for his architectural tastes and his friendship with artists and men of letters, was the only son of Charles, third earl of Cork, and Juliana, daughter and heir to Henry Noel, Luffenham, Rutlandshire. He was born 25 April 1695, and succeeded to the title and estates of his father in 1704. On 9 Oct. 1714 he was sworn a member of the privy council. From May 1715 until 1721 he was lord-lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire, and from June 1715 until 1733 he held the like office in the West Riding. In August 1715 he was furthermore made lord high treasurer of Ireland. In June 1730 he was installed one of the knights companions of the Garter, and in June of the following year constituted captain of the band of gentlemen pensioners. Having before he attained his majority spent several years in Italy, Lord Burlington became an enthusiastic admirer of the architectural genius of Palladio, and on his return to England not only continued his architectural studies, but spent large sums of money to gratify his tastes in this branch of art. His earliest project was about 1716, to alter and partly reconstruct Burlington House, Piccadilly, which had been built by his great grandfather, the first earl of Burlington. The professional artist engaged was Campbell, who in Vitruvius Britannicus, published in 1725, during the earl's lifetime, takes credit for the whole design. Notwithstanding this, Walpole asserts that the famous colonnade within the court was the work of Burlington; and in any case it may be assumed that Campbell was in a great degree guided in his plans by his patron's suggestions. That Burlington was chiefly responsible for the character of the building is further supported by the fact that it formed a striking and solitary exception to the bastard and commonplace architecture of the period. It undoubtedly justified the eulogy of Gay:Beauty within; without, proportion reigns.(Trivia, book ii. line 494.) But, as was the case in most of the designs of Burlington, the useful was sacrificed to the ornamental. The epigram regarding the building attributed to Lord Hervey—who, if he did make use of it, must have translated it from Martial, xii. 50—contained a spice of truth as well as malice. He says that it wasPossessed of one great hall of state,Without a room to sleep or eat.
The building figures in a print of Hogarth's intended to satirise the earl and his friends, entitled Taste of the Town, afterwards changed to Masquerades and Operas, Burlington Gate. Hogarth also published another similar print entitled The Man of Taste, in which Pope is represented as whitewashing Burlington House and bespattering the Duke of Chandos, and Lord Burlington appears as a mason going up a ladder. Burlington House was taken down to make way for the new buildings devoted to science and art. In addition to his town house Burlington had a suburban residence at Chiswick. He pulled down old Chiswick House and erected near it, in 1730-6, a villa built after the model of the celebrated villa of Palladio. This building also provoked the satire of Lord Hervey, who said of it that it was too small to live in and too large to hang to a watch. The grounds were laid out in the Italian style, adorned with temples, obelisks, and statues, and in these sylvan scenes it was the special delight of Burlington to entertain the literary and artistic celebrities whom he numbered among his friends. Here, relates Gay,Pope unloads the boughs within his reach,The purple vine, blue plum, and blushing peach.(Epistle on a Journey to Exeter.)Pope addressed to Burlington the fourth epistle of his Moral Essays, Of the Use of Riches, afterwards changed to On False Taste; and Gay, whom he sent into Devonshire to regain his health, addressed to him his Epistle on a Journey to Exeter, 1716. Both poets frequently refer in terms of warm eulogy to his disinterested devotion to literature and art; but Gay, though he was entertained by him for months, when he lost in the South Sea scheme the money obtained from the publication of his poems, expressed his disappointment that he had received from him so few real benefits (Coxe, Life of Gay, 24). This, however, was mere unreasonable peevishness, for undoubtedly Burlington erred rather on the side of generosity than otherwise. Walpole says of him he possessed every quality of a genius and artist except envy. He was a director of the Royal Academy of Music for the performance of Handel's works, and about 1716 received Handel into his house (Schoelcher, Life of Handel, p. 44). At an early period he was a patron of Bishop Berkeley. The architect Kent, whose acquaintance he made in Italy, resided in his house till his death in 1748, and Burlington used every effort to secure him commissions and extend his fame. His enthusiastic admiration of Inigo Jones induced him to repair the church at Covent Garden. It was at his instance and by his help that Kent published the designs of Inigo Jones, and he also brought out a beautiful edition of Palladio's Fabbriche Antiche, 1730.
Burlington supplied designs for various buildings, including the assembly rooms at York built at his own expense, Lord Harrington's house at Petersham, the dormitory at Westminster School, the Duke of Richmond's house at Whitehall, and General Wade's in Cork Street. The last two were pulled down many years ago. Of General Wade's house Walpole wrote, It is worse contrived in the inside than is conceivable, all to humour the beauty of front, and Lord Chesterfield suggested that, as the general could not live in it to his ease, he had better take a house over against it and look at it. Burlington spent, says Walpole, large sums in contributing to public works, and was known to choose that the expense should fall on himself rather than that his country should be deprived of some beautiful edifices. On this account he became so seriously involved in money difficulties that he was compelled to part with a portion of his Irish estates, as we learn from Swift: My Lord Burlington is now selling in one article 9,000l. a year in Ireland for 200,000l., which won't pay his debts (Swift's Works, ed. Scott, xix. 129). He died in December 1753. By his wife, Lady Dorothy Savile, daughter and coheiress of William, marquis of Halifax, he left three daughters, but no male heir. His wife was a great patroness of music. She also drew in crayons, and is said to have possessed a genius for caricature.
Lodge's Irish Peerage, i. 177-8
Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting
Works of Pope, Gay, and Swift
Wheatley's Round about Piccadilly, 46-59.
Contributor: T. F. H. [Thomas Finlayson Henderson]