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BASEVI, GEORGE (JOSHUA):

Architect; born in London in 1794; died at Ely in 1845. He was the son of George Basevi, whose sister, Maria, had married Isaac Disraeli and was the mother of the earl of Beaconsfield. Educated at first by Dr. Burney at Greenwich in 1811, Basevi became a pupil of Sir John Soane, the architect and antiquary; made a tour in 1816 through Italy and Greece, and returned to England in 1819. In 1821 he was appointed surveyor to the Guardian Assurance Company, and for the next few years was engaged in the construction and superintendence of two churches, and of the houses in Belgrave square. He was almost the last and one of the best of the school that sought for inspiration in the architecture of imperial Rome, before the influence of Pugin turned the fashion in favor of Gothic. His best work was the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge (see illustration on p. 572), and carried out in the best classical style (1837). He erected a prison at Wisbeach, and enlarged one at Ely. With Sydney Smith he was associated from 1843 to 1845 in the construction of the Conservative Club-House, London. In the latter year the same architects undertook the rebuilding of the Carlton Club premises. Basevi died from an accident Oct. 16, 1845, before he had started on the work. He was inspecting the bell-tower of Ely Cathedral when he fell and was killed instantly. He was buried in the chapel at the east end of the cathedral.

Bibliography:
  • Dict. of National Biography, s.v.;
  • Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jew. History;
  • Dictionary of Architectural Publication Society, 1853.
J. G. L.
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