Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (March 29, 1869-January 1, 1944) was an English architect. The majority of his work went to English country houses, but he is also known for his contributions to New Delhi, a subsection of Delhi, India. He also designed many cemeteries, the Liverpool Catholic Cathedral, the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the Johannesburg Art Gallery. He received recognition while he was alive; he was knighted after the First World War. He was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Lutyens, known as Ned, was afflicted with rheumatic fever as a boy, and as a result was unable to attend public school. Though he was successful in the public sphere throughout his life, becoming a member of many government committees, he maintained that he felt a discomfort in the man’s world due to a lack of socialization through public schooling. However, he also attributed his professional success to the same and is quoted as saying, “Any talent I may have was due to a long illness as a boy, which afforded me time to think, and subsequent ill-health, because I was not allowed to play games, and so had to teach myself, for my enjoyment, to use my eyes instead of my feet.” He always had an interest in architecture and was also gifted in math and drawing. With a homemade reusable sketchbook made of glass, soap, and a damp rag, Ned would trace whatever bit of building he saw. By the age of fifteen, he knew he would become an architect and soon enrolled in the Kensington School of Art.
In 1896, he completed his first major work–Munstead Wood, the home of famed horticulture designer Gertrude Jekyll.
Lutyens married Emily Lytton, daughter of Viceroy to India, in 1897. The two’s lack of common interests and Lutyens’ deep engagement with his work eventually led to a fairly distant marriage, in which Lutyens was regularly invited out without Emily and was even preferred for his detachment.
Lutyens had mainly been designing English cottages, but in 1898, he was commissioned to design the British Pavilion for the Paris Exhibition of 1900.
In 1912, he was elected a member of the Delhi Planning Commission, where he would go on to design many government buildings including the Viceroy’s house and the Secretariat Buildings. During his stint in Delhi, he designed many cemeteries in France including Etaples Military Cemetery, the Arras Memorial in the Faubourg d'Amiens British Cemetery in Arras, Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in Thiepval, and the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery in Somme.
Arras Memorial, Faubourg-d'Amiens Cemetery
Being such a prolific and talented architect, he received many honors throughout his life. In 1918, Lutyens was knighted for his work in Delhi. In 1921, he was awarded the Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects. He also received a Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects and in 1942, two years before his death, he was the first architect ever to receive the Order of Merit.
After his death, distinguished author and diplomat Harold Nicolson wrote of Lutyens, “Never since the days of Sheridan and Goldsmith has a man of genius been so widely beloved... Lutyens possessed the faculty of making everybody feel much younger. He adopted an identical attitude of bubbling friendliness whether he was talking to a Queen Dowager or a cigarette girl, a Cardinal or a schoolboy.”
36 Smith Square, London
- Birthday Date: Saturday, 29 March 2014