William Kent biography
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
"All gardening is a landscape painting"
William Kent was born in Bridlington, Yorkshire, in 1685. He trained as a sign painter, and also worked on coaches, before taking up landscape painting. Unfortunately, his talent with the brush was not up to his vision.
In 1715 Kent met Lord Burlington, and Burlington was so impressed with Kent's artistic vision that he brought the young Yorkshireman back to London with him. There Kent designed and built furniture and temples on a classical theme for Burlington and his friends.
He also continued with his painting, but at Burlington's urging, he branched into architecture, where he became quite fashionable.
Kent's finest architectural work is undoubtedly Holkham Hall, built for the Earl of Leicester in the Palladian style. Architecture then included more than simple house design, and Kent was involved in the creation of interior fittings and furnishings, most designed in an ebullient Barocque fashion.
It is not as an architect that Kent is famous, however, but as the father of the "picturesque", or English landscape garden. Yet Kent was no horticulturalist - he envisioned the landscape as a classical painting, carefully arranged to maximize the artistic effects of light, shape, and colour. He was not above planting dead stumps to create the mood he required.
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This famous landscape garden designer gained his odd nickname from his habit of telling clients that their estates had 'great capability of improvement'
His real first name was Lancelot
His father in law was garden designer and architect William Kent
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