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Parker, John Henry

    Full Name: Parker, John Henry

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1806

    Date Died: 1884

    Place Born: London, Greater London, England, UK

    Place Died: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: United Kingdom

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre) and sculpture (visual works)


    Architectural historian and Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum. Parker was the son of a London businessman. He attended Manor House School, Chiswick. In 1821 he began business as a bookseller along with his uncle, Joseph Parker. The following year he assumed his uncle’s firm. The business grew under his guidance, issuing many books for the University, including the series Oxford Pocket Classics. His first architectural publication, Glossary of Architecture, appeared in 1836. Capitalizing on the enthusiasm of Gothic revival in England, Glossary of Architecture was highly influential for both architectural historians and practicing architects of the movement. In 1848 Parker assumed the editorship of the fifth edition of An attempt to discriminate the styles of architecture in England by Thomas Rickman, known as Rickman’s Gothic Architecture. The following year he published his Introduction to the Study of Gothic Architecture, a handbook based on Rickman’s work. Parker next completed the Domestic Architecture of the Middle Ages by Thomas Hudson Turner completing the set in three volumes between 1853-1860. In 1858 his Medieval Architecture of Chester appeared. Architectural Antiquities of the City of Wells (1866) was a landmark in the advocacy of architectural restoration. His two-volume Archaeology of Rome (1874 and 1876) change much legendary information into documented fact. The King of Italy knighted him for his efforts, and Pope Pius IX awarded him a medal of merit. In 1869 he endowed the Ashmolean Museum’s Keeper position, securing his appointment as its first keeper. As Keeper, Parker was not able to turn the interest of the collector and art historian C. Drury Fortum into a bequest, largely because of the lack of interest of Oxford’s vice chancellor. It was left to his successor, Arthur J. Evans, to consolidate the Ashmolean and Fortnum’s bequest into the museum it is today. Parker advocated the restoration of architectural landmarks, especially of church buildings.

    Selected Bibliography

    Rickman, Thomas. An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of Architecture in England: from the Conquest to the Reformation. 5th edtion. London: J. H. Parker, 1848; and Grosvenor, Francis. The Medieval Architecture of Chester. Chester: H. Roberts, 1858; The archaeology of Rome. 11 vols. Oxford: J. Parker and Co./London: J. Murray, 1874ff.; The Architectural Antiquities of the City of Wells. Oxford/London: J. Parker and Co., 1866; An Introduction to the Study of Gothic Architecture. Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1849; A Glossary of Terms Used in Grecian, Roman, Italian, and Gothic Architecture. London: C. Tilt 1836.


    “Parker, John Henry.” Encyclopedia Britannica 11th ed.


    "Parker, John Henry." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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