The word “paradoxical” appears twice in Erik H. Neil’s introduction to the timely and beautifully illustrated volume Thomas Jefferson, Architect: Palladian Models, Democratic Principles, and the Conflict of Ideals, edited by Lloyd DeWitt and Corey Piper. Published in conjunction with a 2019 exhibition of the same name at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, the book contains, in addition to the introduction, seven individually authored essays and a series of large and well-chosen color plates. The first time “paradoxical” appears in Neil’s opening salvo, the bind described is domestic: on the one hand, the ideal shapes and coherent rules drawn from Vitruvius, Palladio, and Vignola that Jefferson used when designing houses like Monticello, and on the other, the fact that these places were “reliant upon slaves for their construction and operation” (3). The second time Neil uses “paradoxical” is in reference to Jefferson’s first public building, the...

You do not currently have access to this content.