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date: 05 July 2022

Gibbs [Gibb], Jamesfree


Gibbs [Gibb], Jamesfree

  • Terry Friedman

James Gibbs (1682–1754)

by John Michael Rysbrack, 1726

Gibbs [Gibb], James (1682–1754), architect, was born on 23 December 1682 at Fittysmire, Aberdeen, the son of Patrick Gibb, a prosperous merchant, and his second wife, Ann Gordon. A son, William (d. 1708–9), from Patrick's first marriage, was the only surviving sibling of Gibbs. Both his parents were Scottish Roman Catholics.

Early years and education

Gibbs was educated at the grammar school and at Marischal College, Aberdeen. According to 'A manuscri[pt] by Mr. Gibbs memorandums, &c.', which is semi-autobiographical, following his parents' death about 1700, he went to the Netherlands, perhaps to live with relatives, Peter and Elspeth Morison; this residence was followed by travels through France, Germany, Austria, and Italy, during which he examined a wide range of historical and modern buildings. On 12 October 1703 he registered at the Scots College in Rome to train as a priest. By August 1704, having been terrified by the rector's rudeness, he left without taking his vows.

According to a fellow student, James Gordon, Gibbs remained in Rome to 'apply himself to painting, seemingly to have a great genious for that employment' (Friedman, James Gibbs, 5–6). He may already have considered an architectural career, since a letter of 1713 from John Erskine, earl of Mar, to Robert Harley claims that he 'studied architecture at Rome and elsewhere sixteen years' (Portland MSS, 10.301). In a letter of 11 August 1717 he refers to 'my old masters' Carlo Fontana, then the most influential architect in Rome, and Ambramo Paris (Stuart Papers, 2.568), and he may also have been taught by Pietro Francesco Garroli, professor of perspective at the Accademia di San Luca. Gibbs was the first Briton to receive a professional architectural training abroad. In 1706 he was living in the strada Paolina, near the piazza di Spagna. He remained in Rome until late 1708, a period which had the most profound impact on his early career and on the formation of a personal style that combined late baroque and antique classical architectural vocabularies, which was rivalled in England only by that of his contemporary Nicholas Hawksmoor.

Early work, 1709–1719

Gibbs had arrived in London by November 1708. As early as February 1709 he could write of having 'a great many very good friends here … of the first rank and quality … but their promises are not a present relief for my circumstances' (Egmont MSS, 2.234–5). He soon received a sinecure commission at the garrison at Stirling Castle from the earl of Mar, for whom he designed a lodge (c.1710; dem.) at nearby Alloa in Clackmannanshire. His first known architectural design, it derives from Bernini's Palazzo Chigi, Rome. He remodelled a house (1710; dem.) in the privy gardens at Whitehall, London, for Mar and Hugh Campbell, third earl of Loudoun, joint secretaries of state for Scotland. Gibbs quickly established his presence in the capital. In 1711 he became a founder member of Sir Godfrey Kneller's cosmopolitan academy of painting in Great Queen Street. He designed the dedication engraving to Prince George of Denmark in John Flamsteed's Historia coelestis (1712), purloining a plate from Andrea Pozzo's Perspectiva pictorum et architectorum (1702).

On 18 November 1713, with the help of Mar, Robert Harley, and Christopher Wren, Gibbs secured the coveted co-surveyorship, with Hawksmoor, to the commissioners for the building of fifty new churches. He had already submitted in 1713 two remarkable wooden models for avant-garde churches in the form of antique classical temples. He then proposed one based on the temple of Fortuna Virilis, Rome, and another of a more baroque flavour, both for St Mary-le-Strand (1714), together with a scheme for a 250 foot high column in the Strand dedicated to Queen Anne, based on Trajan's column, Rome; this was abandoned at the queen's death on 1 August 1714.

Gibbs's final design for St Mary's, approved on 4 November 1714, for which he made a wooden model, was erected at a cost of £20,106; the building accounts are preserved at Lambeth Palace. The church was his first public building. Its lavish, exquisite detailing relies on Francesco Borromini and Fontana, blatantly Roman associations which were condemned by a later critic, Batty Langley, as 'a mere groupe of absurdities' (Grub-Street Journal, 254, 7 Nov 1734, 1). In December 1715 Gibbs was deprived of his surveyorship, which he blamed on 'a false report … that misrepresented me as a papest and a disaffected person, which … is intirly false and scandalous' (Friedman, James Gibbs, 10), but was permitted to oversee the completion of St Mary's, which was consecrated on 1 January 1724. A mezzotint of about 1723 by Peter Pelham, after a lost portrait by Hans Hysing, shows the architect well dressed and confident, holding a plan of his church, but losing the surveyorship was a mighty blow. He toyed with the idea of joining Mar—then exiled for his leading part in the unsuccessful Jacobite rising—at Paris in 1716–17—but 'Necessity requires to prefer a little profit to pleasure' (Stuart Papers, 2.568).

Gibbs now set about re-establishing his public career. On 18 December 1716 he was admitted to the St Luke's Club [see Society of the Virtuosi of St Luke], which his friend George Vertue described as one of 'the Tip top Clubbs of all, for men of the highest Character in Arts' (Friedman, James Gibbs, 21), and aligned himself with the gardener Charles Bridgeman, the sculptor John Michael Rysbrack, and the painter Sir James Thornhill, with whom he subsequently collaborated. Gibbs served as club steward in 1719. During these wilderness years he was employed mainly by tories and Jacobites on private, domestic commissions. For James Johnson, former secretary of state for Scotland, he built a beautiful octagonal pavilion (1716–21) at Twickenham, Middlesex (now the Orleans House Museum), with its rich, proto-rococo decoration executed by Gibbs's favourite plasterers, Carlo Giuseppe Artari and Giovanni Bagutti. For Sir William Wyndham he radically remodelled the Tudor fabric of Witham Park, Somerset, by inserting a double temple portico entrance (c.1717; dem.), anticipating Robert Adam's later and more famous example at Osterley Park, Middlesex. The remodelling of the Elizabethan mansion at Cannons, near Edgware, Middlesex (1716–20; dem. 1747), for James Brydges, first duke of Chandos, created spectacular baroque façades and opulently furnished apartments, including a chapel where George Frideric Handel served as kapellmeister, which led Daniel Defoe to proclaim it the 'most magnificent palace … in England' (D. Defoe, A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain, 1962, 1.6). Gibbs produced a number of alternative schemes for remodelling Lowther Hall, Westmorland (c.1717–28), the great country house of Henry Lowther, third Viscount Lonsdale, but failed to realize any of them. He created a famous library and chapel at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire (1713–32), for Edward Harley, second earl of Oxford; Thornhill celebrated this work in a poem entitled 'A Hue and Cry' (1721), in which he praised 'Gibbesius … a man of great Fame' (Wren Society, 17, 1940, 12). For Harley's poet, Matthew Prior, Gibbs planned a Palladian villa in Essex (1720), which was unrealized owing to Prior's death in 1721. Gibbs attended his funeral in Westminster Abbey and was a beneficiary of his will. In 1719–20 Gibbs remodelled Alexander Pope's villa at Twickenham (dem.).

However, Gibbs also attracted patronage from a few prominent whigs. Richard Boyle, third earl of Burlington, commissioned a pair of quadrant Doric colonnades and service blocks for his town house in Piccadilly, London (1715–16; dem. 1868), and John Campbell, second duke of Argyll and Greenwich, a pioneer Palladian villa at Sudbrook, near Petersham, Surrey (1715–19). In 1719 Gibbs added the upper stages of the steeple of St Clement Danes, London, a church designed by Wren, who was then still alive. In the same year he was among a group of architects who signed a report condemning the inadequate repairs to the House of Lords made by the surveyor-general of the king's works, William Benson, and his deputy, Colen Campbell. In 1720 Gibbs subscribed to John Gay's Poems on Several Occasions.

Public reputation, 1720–1730

In 1720 Gibbs became, in the words of Horace Walpole, 'the architect most in vogue' (Walpole, 44). He was among 'the ablest architects' considered by the Radcliffe trustees on 27 July capable of designing the new library proposed for Oxford (Gillam, 99). On 3 October he was invited to design St George's, Hanover Square, London, though the job was given to John James. On 24 November Gibbs was appointed architect for rebuilding the royal parish church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, the voluminous building accounts for which are held in the City of Westminster Archives Centre. These and a large number of preparatory drawings reveal that he had already, on 29 July 1720, presented an ambitious scheme for a large, domed rotunda church, but owing to site difficulties he was forced to revise this by May–June 1721 into a rectangular, pseudoperipteral temple form in which the Corinthian hexastyle portico and the lofty, multitiered steeple soaring out of its roof are tied together by paired in antis columns placed in the side bays directly below the steeple, one of Gibbs's most fertile inventions. The scheme was presented as a fine wooden model (now in the Royal Institute of British Architects' drawings collection). Further major changes were made to the design, the first stone was laid on 19 March 1722, and the completed building was consecrated on 20 October 1726; the cost totalled £33,661, with the architect's fee at £632 4s. 6d. In A Critical Review of the Publick Buildings, Statues and Ornaments in, and about London and Westminster (1734) James Ralph praised the portico as 'at once elegant and august, and the steeple … one of the most tolerable in town' (p. 31), while according to André Rouquet, in The Present State of the Arts in England (1755), 'the architect has shew the elegance of his taste, and the solidity of his judgment' (pp. 95–6).

Gibbs's daring and innovative masterpiece, St Martin's became the most influential church in the English-speaking world of the eighteenth century. Alexander Gordon, in the preface to Itinerarium septentrionale (1726), claimed that if 'such Buildings as the great Artist Mr. Gibbs has adorn'd London with, continues to be carried on, very few Cities in Europe … will contend with it for Magnificence'. Other important ecclesiastical work followed. In 1721 he designed the Marylebone Chapel in Vere Street, London, for Edward Harley (completed 1724; now offices), and in 1723 All Saints' (now the cathedral), Derby (completed 1726), his most important church in the provinces. He was described as one of 'the greatest architects in the kingdom' in connection with repairs to Lincoln Minster in 1726 (Friedman, James Gibbs, 16).

Gibbs was the first major British architect to specialize in designing church monuments. The most important examples, made between 1723 and 1731, are in Westminster Abbey, particularly those to John Holles, first duke of Newcastle, James Craggs, John Dryden, Ben Jonson, and Matthew Prior; a design for Shakespeare's monument was not realized. His splendid monument to the philanthropist Edward Colston (1728–9; All Saints', Bristol), should be noted. Rysbrack was his favourite carver:

While Gibbs displays his elegant DesignAnd Rysbracks Art does in the Sculpture shine …Each Artist here, perpetuates his Name,And shares … an Immortal Fame.

Vertue, Note Books, 3.21In 1723 he sat to Rysbrack for a portrait bust in terracotta (lost), which in 1726 was carved in white marble (Victoria and Albert Museum, London). This portrays Gibbs in a noble, pensive pose intentionally reminiscent of Edward Pierce's celebrated bust of Wren (G. Balderston, Rysbrack's Busts of James Gibbs and Alexander Pope from Henrietta Street, The Georgian Group Journal, 11, 2001, 1–28).

In April 1723 Gibbs was elected a governor of St Bartholomew's Hospital, Smithfield, London, and he opened an account at Drummond's Bank, with a balance of £1055 11s. 4d. In 1725 he took long leases of several terrace houses in Marylebone, which he had designed (the interior of 11 Henrietta Street, demolished in 1956, survives in the Victoria and Albert Museum), and by 1726 he was living in a house at the corner of Henrietta Street and Wimpole Street, which contained his office, library, and art collection. As a Marylebone resident he undertook various parochial duties. He was elected a member of the Society of Antiquaries in London in March 1726, and a fellow of the Royal Society in 1729. In 1727 he was appointed architect of the ordnance through the patronage of the duke of Argyll, a post which paid an annual salary of £120 for life but which was apparently a sinecure.

Although some of Gibbs's domestic work of the 1720s remained conservative, such as Ditchley House, Oxfordshire (1720–27), his attempts to pioneer the new taste for Palladian architecture now made that the dominant feature of his domestic style, as at Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (1728–32), though baroque features continued to assert themselves, as in the corner domes added to Sir Robert Walpole's Houghton Hall, Norfolk (c.1727–35). In September 1726 Gibbs replaced the recently deceased Sir John Vanbrugh as Viscount Cobham's architect at Stowe, Buckinghamshire, the greatest landscape garden of the age, and during the next twenty-three years he designed and erected a series of exceptional buildings, most of which survive, including the originally obelisk-crowned Boycott Pavilions (1728–9), the Temple of Friendship (1739–41), and Palladian Bridge (1738–42). In the Temple of Liberty (1741–7) he used a Gothic vocabulary to express an eighteenth-century concept of liberty in which British early medieval history was associated with a renewed nationalism based on whig precepts of constitutional democracy. Walpole confessed that 'in the heretical corner of my heart I adore the Gothic building, which by some unusual inspiration Gibbs has made pure and beautiful and venerable' (Friedman, James Gibbs, 197). A letter dated 4 August 1765 confirms that Gibbs also designed the 114 foot high Cobham column (1746–9), though apparently he did not authorize the fluting (TNA: PRO, PRO 30/8/62 Part 1, fol. 101). He worked in other gardens, sometimes collaborating with Bridgeman; these survive only in fragments, notably at Hartwell, Buckinghamshire (1723–40), and Tring Park, Hertfordshire (1724–39). During the 1720s he became the leading architect at Cambridge, though his schemes proved too ambitious to have been fully realized. Of the quadrangular design for a new public building (1721) consisting of a library, consistory, and Senate House, only the latter wing, containing a long richly decorated room, enclosed by engaged temple-fronted façades, was built (1722–30). Likewise only one of the austere fellows' buildings of his Palladian ensemble for King's College (1724–42) was erected.

Many of these collegiate and garden buildings, houses, monuments and churches, especially St Martin-in-the-Fields, were illustrated in the 150 engraved plates in A Book of Architecture, which Gibbs published in 1728, having attracted 481 subscribers, each of whom paid 4 guineas. In the introduction he recommended the book to 'Gentlemen as might be concerned in Building, especially in the remote parts of the Country, where little or no assistance for Designs can be procured … which may be executed by any Workman who understands Lines' (p. 1). It is arguably the most influential pattern book in the history of British architecture, and was used throughout Britain and its colonies abroad; a second edition was published in 1739. Some of the designs reappeared in 1731 in Thirty three shields & compartments for monumental inscriptions, coats of arms, &c. of great use to artists & others, neatly engrav'd from the designs of that curious architect, Mr. Jam: Gibbs, published by John Clark, an engraver and bookseller. In 1732 Gibbs issued Rules for drawing the several parts of architecture in a more exact and easy manner than has been heretofore practiced, by which fractions, in dividing the principal members and their parts, are avoided. This also proved a success and appeared in editions in 1736, 1738, and 1753.

The middle years, 1730–1750

This period began optimistically. At St Bartholomew's Hospital Gibbs succeeded in erecting three of the four buildings proposed in 1728: the administration block (1728–38) containing the court room and a staircase decorated by William Hogarth, and two ward blocks (1735–53), while the final component was erected posthumously (1758–68) to his design. These were the first London buildings to use Bath stone. Gibbs gave his designs and time free of charge. He was responsible for the chapels at Witley Court, Worcestershire (1733–5), and Sir William Turner's Hospital, Kirkleatham, Yorkshire (1741–c.1750), both of which he filled with sumptuous furnishings rescued from his demolished chapel at Cannons; an impressive town house for Maria Shireburn, dowager duchess of Norfolk, at 16 Arlington Street, Westminster (1734–40; now Over-Seas House), the Thomlinson Library (1736) attached to St Nicholas, Newcastle upon Tyne, and additional bookshelves in the Codrington Library, Oxford (1740–50). His design (1741) for rebuilding St Nicholas West Church, Aberdeen, was executed in 1751–5 by James Wylie. Gibbs advised on new improvements to Magdalen College, Oxford (1728), and adjudicated in building disputes connected with the Grosvenor Estate, Mayfair (1720–28), Kingsland Hospital, Hackney, London (1726), the new exchange, Bristol (1741), and Tetbury church, Gloucestershire (1742–4). In appreciation for the library room created at 49 Great Ormond Street, London (dem. 1876), Dr Richard Mead presented him in 1734 with a silver cup inscribed 'Jacomo Gibbs … eximio architecto' ('outstanding architect'). Such was his reputation that his name was sought to endorse Francis Price's The British Carpenter (1733) and The Builder's Dictionary (1734). A glimpse of Gibbs, in company with Bridgeman, Rysbrack, Vertue, and other artists may be caught in Gawen Hamilton's oil painting A Conversation of Virtuosi (1735; National Portrait Gallery, London). Robert Morris promoted him in 'The Art of Architecture: a Poem' (1742):

Gibbs may be said, most Times in Dress to pleaseAnd few can decorate with greater Ease.

p. 4

However, these years were not free of troubles for Gibbs. In 1731 he lost the job of designing St Giles-in-the-Fields, London, to the younger Henry Flitcroft; in 1734 Batty Langley attacked the block-rusticated window motif, known as a Gibbs-surround, popularized at St Martin's Church, as 'a most terrible absurdity', and St Clement Danes's steeple as 'a most intolerable clumsy performance' (Grub-Street Journal, 249, 3 Oct 1734, 2; and 253, 31 Oct 1734, 1); in 1737 Gibbs lost the important London Mansion House competition to George Dance senior; he was described as 'a Person wholly unskilled' (pp. 6–7) in the business of building arbitration in an unsavoury political pamphlet entitled City Corruption and Maladministration Display'd (1738). Designs for new houses at Hampstead Marshall, Berkshire (1739), and Catton Hall, Derbyshire (1741), and garden buildings for Kiveton Park, Yorkshire (1741), never got beyond the drawing board.

Final years

Hawksmoor's death in 1736 brought Gibbs the prestigious post of new architect to the Radcliffe trustees, with an annual salary of £100. His first proposals for a library at Oxford, issued in bound sets of engravings entitled Bibliotheca Radcliffiana (1737 and 1740), reveal his debt to Hawksmoor's unrealized designs, but developed into a more compact, domed rotunda, containing a majestic circular reading room reminiscent of an ancient mausoleum—a form which revealed the library's additional function as a memorial to Dr John Radcliffe. Gibbs is shown, dressed in a velvet coat and brocaded silk waistcoat, measuring one of the library plans in John Michael Williams's oil portrait (c.1737–40; National Portrait Gallery, London). The foundation-stone was laid on 11 June 1737. Gibbs published his final designs in Bibliotheca Radcliviana, or, A Short Description of the Radcliffe Library, at Oxford (1747). Containing twenty-three finely engraved plates showing all aspects of the design and construction of the building and praising the chief craftsmen by name, the volume was in a format then unprecedented in British architectural publications. Bernard Baron's lavishly engraved portrait of the eminently confident architect, after a drawing (lost) by Hogarth, forms the frontispiece. The new library, costing £43,226 6s. 3d., opened on 13 April 1749. This was the occasion of festive public celebrations, during which Gibbs received a master of arts degree from the university on 12 April.

Although the library occupied his attention for more than ten years, Gibbs was concerned with other important work. In 1740 he designed an octagonal mausoleum in memory of Marwood William Turner attached to the church at Kirkleatham, Yorkshire, inspired by a reconstruction of the famous ancient mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Asia Minor, in J. B. Fischer von Erlach's Entwurff einer historischen Architectur (1721), a copy of which was in Gibbs's library. This majestic late work proves that he never entirely abandoned the extravagant baroque of his formative years. More sedate is the house and church built for Sir John Astley at Patshull, Staffordshire (1742). Vertue reported in 1746 that he 'has fortund [sic] very well … by his industry and great business of publick & private works' (Vertue, Note Books, 3.133). Between 1747 and 1752 Gibbs supplied alternative designs for Newbridge, co. Dublin, for Archbishop Charles Cobbe, one of which was carried out as the present house, the architect's only known executed Irish commission (T. Friedman and A. Cobbe, James Gibbs and the design of Newbridge House, in A. Lang, ed., Clerics and Connoisseurs, 2001, 27–36).

Andrea Soldi's oil portrait of Gibbs (c.1746; National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh) reveals the gaunt, strained features of a man long suffering from a painful kidney disease. In June 1749 he sought relief in the medicinal waters at Aix-la-Chapelle in Germany, before returning to London in September of that year. Though now virtually retired from practice, he continued to attend the Radcliffe trustees' meetings and to advise on finishing details for the library until as late as 1753. In a final spurt of creativity he designed and built Bank Hall (now the town hall) at Warrington (1749–50), for Thomas Patten, a local ironmaster, which demonstrates that he had lost nothing of his powers as a great Palladian architect: it was reported at the time that he considered this 'the masterpiece of all his Designs in this way' (Friedman, James Gibbs, 149). He also remodelled Ragley Hall, Warwickshire (begun 1751), for Francis Seymour Conway, first earl of Hertford, creating a leviathan and sumptuously stuccoed entrance hall (completed by 1768) unmatched in grandeur by any other English room of the age.

Death and assessment

Gibbs was a bachelor and despite public denials and fear of exposure remained a Roman Catholic: he received the last rites from his director, Bishop Petre, vicar apostolic of the London district. He was a wealthy man, possessing seven London properties bringing an annual rent of £525 and some £4000 in the bank. He made his will on 9 May 1754, leaving small amounts to various friends and charities, including £400 to his draughtsman, John Borlack, his own house and art collection to the Scottish painter Cosmo Alexander, which Alexander later sold (A catalogue of the genuine and curious collection of pictures … of that ingenious architect James Gibbs, Langford's, London, 25–6 March 1756), and the bulk of his fortune, including plate and three properties in Marylebone, to Lord Erskine, the son of his early patron Lord Mar. Oxford University received Rysbrack's truthful but unflattering marble bust of Gibbs (1726), with its wigless, egg-shaped skull and naked shoulders (Bodl. Oxf., Radcliffe Camera), eight volumes of office drawings, together with drawings by other architects (Ashmolean Museum), and an extensive library of architectural and other books still held in the Bodleian Library, each carrying an engraved bookplate by Baron, dated 1736, with Gibbs's head in profile.

Gibbs died on 5 August 1754 at his house in Henrietta Street and was buried four days later in St Marylebone parish church, commemorated by a simple wall tablet. The obituaries praised him as 'an eminent architect' (GM, 387), 'well known for his great Abilities in Architecture' (Daily Advertiser).

Interest in Gibbs and his buildings has never flagged: Horace Walpole devoted three pages to him in volume 4 of his Anecdotes of Painting in England (1771), and he received his due in every significant nineteenth-century dictionary of art and architecture. His achievement was best understood, however, by Sir John Summerson, the foremost twentieth-century scholar of English classicism. Devoting a whole chapter to Gibbs in his Architecture in Britain, 1530–1830 (1953), Summerson described him as 'one of the most individual of English architects. Not a profound innovator [he] possessed an ability to select and combine the characteristics of other architects and fuse them into a style of his own' (Summerson, 357).


  • T. Friedman, James Gibbs (1984) [fully documented life, catalogue of works, list of drawings, collections, and fine art library]
  • T. Friedman, ‘Gibbs's library at St Nicholas, Newcastle-upon-Tyne’, Architectural History, 41 (1998), 261–5
  • J. Ingamells, ed., A dictionary of British and Irish travellers in Italy, 1701–1800 (1997), 398–9
  • H. Walpole, Anecdotes of painting in England … collected by the late George Vertue, and now digested and published, 2nd edn, 4 vols. (1765–71), vol. 4, pp. 44–7
  • J. Dallaway, Observations on English architecture (1806), 153–6, 192
  • E. Cresy, The lives of celebrated architects (1826), 296–7
  • A. Cunningham, The lives of the most eminent British painters, sculptors, and architects, 4 (1831), 284–99
  • J. Gwilt, An encyclopedia of architecture (1842), 219–20
  • [W. Papworth], ed., The dictionary of architecture, 11 vols. (1853–92)
  • E. B. Chancellor, The lives of British architects (1909), 233–45
  • GM, 1st ser., 24 (1754), 387
  • Daily Advertiser [London] (9 Aug 1754)
  • register of students, Scots College, Rome
  • E. G. W. Bill, ed., The Queen Anne churches: a catalogue of the papers in Lambeth Palace Library of the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches (1979)
  • L. Arbace, ‘Artari family’, in J. Banham, Encyclopedia of interior design, 1 (1997), 55–8
  • R. Wilson-North and S. Porter, ‘Witham, Somerset: from Carthusian monastery to country house to Gothic folly’, Architectural History, 40 (1997), 81–98
  • T. Friedman, ‘The palace of the princely Chandos’, in M. Airs, The eighteenth century great house (1996), 101–20
  • S. G. Gillam, The building accounts of the Radcliffe Camera, OHS, new ser., 13 (1958)
  • E. Harris and N. Savage, British architectural books and writers, 1556–1785 (1990), 208–13
  • T. Friedman, ‘Baroque into Palladian: the designing of St. Giles-in-the-Fields’, Architectural History, 40 (1997), 115–43
  • M. Whiffen, ‘The progeny of St Martin-in-the-Fields’, ArchR, 100 (1946), 3–6
  • J. Summerson, Architecture in Britain, 1530–1830 (1969), chap. 21
  • S. Lang, ‘Gibbs: a bicentenary review of his architectural sources’, ArchR, 116 (1954), 20–26
  • B. Little, The life and works of James Gibbs (1955)
  • The manuscripts of his grace the duke of Portland, 10 vols., HMC, 29 (1891–1931), vol. 10
  • Report on the manuscripts of the earl of Egmont, 2 vols. in 3, HMC, 63 (1905–9), vol. 2
  • Calendar of the Stuart papers belonging to his majesty the king, preserved at Windsor Castle, 7 vols., HMC, 56 (1902–23), vol. 2


  • LPL, corresp. and papers
  • Sir John Soane's Museum, London, ‘A manuscript by Mr. Gibbs, memorandums, &c.’ containing ‘A few short cursory remarks on some of the finest antient and modern buildings in Rome, and other parts of Italy’ (pp. 1–70) and ‘A short accompt of Mr James Gibbs…after his returne from Italy’ (pp. 83–102)
  • King's AC Cam., corresp. and papers relating to King's College, Cambridge


  • J. M. Rysbrack, marble bust, 1726, V&A [see illus.]
  • G. Hamilton, group portrait, oils, 1735 (A conversation of virtuosi … at the King's Armes), NPG
  • B. Baron, bookplate line engraving, 1736, BM; repro. in Friedman, James Gibbs, pl. 4
  • A. Soldi, oils, 1737, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London
  • J. M. Williams, oils, 1737–1740, NPG
  • A. Soldi, oils, 1746, NG Scot.
  • attrib. A. Soldi, oils, 1746, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London
  • oils, 1749, Oriel College, Oxford
  • J. M. Williams, oils, 1752, Bodl. Oxf.; version, NPG
  • B. Baron, line engraving (after W. Hogarth, 1747), BM, NPG; repro. in Friedman, James Gibbs, pl. 6
  • P. Pelham, mezzotint (after H. Hysing, 1723), BM, NPG; repro. in Friedman, James Gibbs, pl. 3
  • J. M. Rysbrack, marble bust, second version, Bodl. Oxf.

Wealth at Death

£4000 in seven London properties (annual rent £525), furniture, art collection, library, and architectural drawings: will, 1754, TNA: PRO

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H. M. Colvin, , 3rd edn (1995)