(b. Gothenburg, Sweden, 1723; d. London, 1796)
Born the son of a Scottish merchant in Gothenburg, Sweden in
1723, William Chambers studied in England. He returned to Sweden at
the age of sixteen to join the Swedish East India Company. His
subsequent travels through Bengal and China gave him an Oriental
perspective on art and design. By 1749 he had saved enough money
from his travels to make architecture his only profession.
Chambers studied in Paris and Italy, absorbing ideas current at
the French Academy in Rome. Upon his return to England, Chambers
became the architectural tutor to the Prince of Wales. This led to a
long and fruitful patronage by the royal family. In 1761 Chambers
was appointed as one of the Joint Architects of the King's Work and
by 1769 he was so indispensable that he was appointed Comptroller of
the King's Works. When the office was reorganized in 1782 he became
the Surveyor General and the Comptroller.
William Chambers was a confidant of George III and the first
Treasurer of the Royal Academy of the Arts, which became public in
1768. He wrote a Treatise on Civil Architecture, and was a patron of
John Soane while Soane was a student at the Academy.
Chamber's architecture blended the symmetrical, well-ordered
facades of Palladianism with early forms of Neoclassicism. He died
in London in 1796.