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Mr Joseph Bonomi

Who was Joseph Bonomi?

Joseph Bonomi (1739–1808) was an Italian architect and Egyptologist who left an indelible mark on the fields of architecture and archaeology during the 18th century. Born in Rome on 19 January 1739, Bonomi displayed an early aptitude for drawing and mathematics, skills that would later define his illustrious career.

Life and Work

Bonomi's architectural journey began in his native Italy, where he studied under prominent architects of the time. His talent soon garnered attention, and he found himself working on various architectural projects across Europe. In 1767, he arrived in England, where he would spend the majority of his professional life.

In England, Bonomi quickly established himself as a versatile architect, contributing to a wide array of projects ranging from grand residences to public buildings. His designs often combined classical elements with contemporary innovations, showcasing his adeptness at blending tradition with modernity.

One of Bonomi's most significant contributions to architecture was his involvement in the construction of the iconic Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Working alongside renowned architect Sir William Chambers, Bonomi played a key role in shaping the palace's distinctive neoclassical style, leaving an enduring legacy in British architectural history. Bonomi is particularly noted for his work carried out for the Adam brothers, in whose offices in London, England, he worked from 1767 to 1781, and for his designs for country houses, many of which were exhibited at the Royal Academy, London. A large collection of his drawings are now held at the Royal Institute of British Architects, London.

In addition to his architectural pursuits, Bonomi possessed a keen interest in archaeology, particularly the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Rome. His passion for these subjects led him to become one of the pioneering Egyptologists of his time. Bonomi's expertise in both architecture and archaeology made him uniquely qualified to contribute to the burgeoning field of Egyptology, where he made several groundbreaking discoveries.

Bonomi's most notable archaeological achievement was his collaboration with Giovanni Battista Belzoni, a fellow Italian explorer, in the excavation of the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings. Together, they unearthed a wealth of artifacts and inscriptions, shedding new light on ancient Egyptian civilization and its funerary practices.

Throughout his career, Bonomi's work bridged the gap between the disciplines of architecture and archaeology, demonstrating the intrinsic connection between the built environment and the study of ancient civilizations. His legacy continues to inspire architects and archaeologists alike, reminding us of the enduring influence of the past on the present.

Bonomi died on 9 March 1808. He was buried in the Marylebone cemetery, England.


  1. Curl, James Stevens. "Bonomi, Joseph (1739–1808), architect." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004.
  2. Richardson, Margaret. "Joseph Bonomi (1739–1808): A Preliminary Study of His Life and Work." Architectural History, vol. 17, 1974, pp. 28–40.
  3. Taylor, John H. "Joseph Bonomi in Rome." The Burlington Magazine, vol. 114, no. 833, 1972, pp. 675–682.


Colvin, Howard, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 3rd edition (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995), pp. 141-142.

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