Bonhomi

If one doesn’t think Robert Ferrars is a coxcomb after his behavior at Gray’s in chapter 33, then one should after listening to him go on about cottages in chapter 33.

“For my own part,” said he, “I am excessively fond of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much elegance about them. And I protest, if I had any money to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself, within a short distance of London, where I might drive myself down at any time, and collect a few friends about me, and be happy. I advise everybody who is going to build, to build a cottage. My friend Lord Courtland came to me the other day on purpose to ask my advice, and laid before me three different plans of Bonomi’s. I was to decide on the best of them. ‘My dear Courtland,’ said I, immediately throwing them all into the fire, ‘do not adopt either of them, but by all means build a cottage.’ And that, I fancy, will be the end of it.”

From the fact that the Robert Ferrars derides the work of Bonomi work, I think we can take it that JA approved of him. 😉

Here is a little background information on Bonomi. He was born on 19 January 1739 in Rome, the eldest of five children of Giovanni Giacomo Bonomi, agent to some of the Roman nobility, and his wife, Teresa Corbi. He studied at the Collegio Romano, and, according to his son Ignatius, writing in 1808, having as a child employed himself in endeavoring to solve architectural problems, he was placed under Antonio Asprucci, architect to Prince Borghese. He studied also with Girolamo Teodoli and possibly received tuition in drawing from Charles-Louis Clorisseau.

About 1763 James Adam, then on his grand tour in Rome, saw some of Bonomi’s work, including drawings in competition for a gold medal in architecture, and engaged him to work exclusively for the Adam brothers in drawing Roman antiquities.
In 1767 Robert and James Adam invited Bonomi to Britain, where he worked as a draughtsman in their London office until 1781. Bonomi left the Adams in 1781 and set up as an independent architect. He prepared designs dated 1782, all apparently unexecuted, for several clients, including his later patrons the bluestocking Elizabeth Montagu and the fourth earl of Aylesford. Bonomi exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1783. In 1789, after several attempts, he was elected an associate on the casting vote of the president, Sir Joshua Reynolds. He died at home at 76 Great Titchfield Street, London, on 9 March 1808, and was buried in Marylebone churchyard.

As to his work….
In his designs Bonomi turned away from the Adam brothers’ elaborate delicacy, producing stronger and more chaste designs which possibly reflect the influence of James Wyatt (with whom he occasionally collaborated) and Henry Holland.
Bonomi’s exteriors, however, were often blockish and severe, unless enlivened by a bold feature, such as a porte-cochere (at Longford Hall, Shropshire, built in 1789-92 for Ralph Leake, and Laverstoke Park, Hampshire, built in 1796 for Henry Portal) or an open colonnaded belvedere on the roof (as at Rosneath, Dunbartonshire, 1803-8; dem. 1961, for the fifth duke of Argyll).

Other forceful features used by Bonomi were a double, superimposed portico employed at Barrells House, Henley in Arden, Warwickshire (1792-4), for Robert Knight, and Stansted House, Sussex (1786-91), for Richard Barwell and ground-floor wings linked to the piano nobile of the main house by descending quadrant passages, at Eastwell Park, Kent (1793-9), for George Finch Hatton.

See Peter Meadows, Joseph Bonomi: architect (1988) page 178
This is probably the connection with JA: her brother Edward was a friend and near neighbour of the Finch Hattons who lived at Eastwell Park in Kent, and, as JA visited that house while staying with Edward (see Letter number 89) she may have known of the name of its architect via this family.
Link to house.

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