Sir Edwin Lutyens is one of the great British architects of his age, a master in design with function and artistry. His prolific career encompassed a great number of country houses, commercial buildings, some fine monuments and his greatest achievement, the Viceroy's House of New Delhi, where his influence resonates through out the city. Lutyens won the commission to build a new capital for the British Empire’s jewel, he wanted to create a garden city ‘with room for endless expansion’. The city has continued to expand and become the capital of the world’s largest democracy and one of the most successful planned cities of the 20th century. He rebelled against the British Governments aspirations for New Delhi and made it his own, he even changed the location of the new city after the foundation stone had been laid by the King George V.
He was hugely influenced early on in his career by The Arts and Crafts Movement and later more so in the much earlier classical style, but he developed his own style particularly in architecture, lighting and furniture where he made reference to the great English tradition of furniture making but sadly very little of Lutyens interiors or furniture survive today.
He was the son of a painter and married Emily Lytton the daughter of Lord Lytton, Viceroy of India. The pair met at a dance in 1896 and married the following year although they had five children their marriage was not a great success and he found life long friendship with Miss Gertrude Jekyll the most important garden designer of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods where Lutyens formed the most important partnership of his professional life. They adored each other, laughed freely together and enjoyed each others company immensely. He loved jokes and puns and is known to have had whimsical sense of humour, she nick named him Nedi and he called her Bumps and together they found an inseparable link between architecture and garden design.
Lady Sackville, was another lady very close to Lutyens, wealthy and sophisticated she introduced him to important clients in the highest levels of society and although there is no firm evidence it is probable that the two were lovers.
A lifelong smoker, Lutyens died of cancer in 1944.
Researched and written by Tony Geering.