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William Kent - Summary

Date of Birth: 1685

Date of Death: 1748

Gender: male

Nationality: English

Notable dates

  • baptized 01/01/1686

Occupation: Designer

Narrative:

William Kent was an architect, designer, landscape gardener and painter active in the early- to mid-18th century. He was born in Bridlington, Yorkshire, England in 1685 and originally trained as a coach and theatrical scenery painter.

Kent rose to great fame during the period in the realm of landscape gardening in particular under the patronage of Lord Burlington. Famously described by Horace Walpole as having 'leaped the fence, and saw that all nature was a garden', Kent added a new pictoral, classical and natural approach to gardening, having been heavily influenced by what he had seen in Italy on the Grand Tour.

Further reading:

Colvin, Howard, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 3rd edition (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995), pp. 580-586.

Harris, John, 'Kent, William (bap. 1686, d. 1748)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2007) <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/15424> [accessed 30 November 2008]

Hunt, John Dixon, William Kent, Landscape Garden Designer: An Assessment and Catalogue of his Designs (London: A. Zwemmer Ltd., 1987)

Jourdain, Margaret, The Work of William Kent: Artist, Painter, Designer and Landscape Gardener (London: Country Life Limited, 1948)

Mowl, Timothy, William Kent: Architect, Designer, Opportunist (London: Jonathan Cape, 2006)

National Archives, National Register of Archives, Person Details, Kent, William (1684-1748) Painter Sculptor and Architect, GB/NNAF/P129332' <http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/subjectView.asp?ID=P16149> [accessed 29 November 2008]

National Portrait Gallery, Search the Collections, 'William Kent (1685?-1748), Architect' <http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/person.asp?LinkID=mp02517> [accessed 29 November 2008]

Sicca, Cinzia Maria, 'On William Kent's Roman Sources', Architectural History, 29 (1986), pp. 134-57.

Wilson, Michael, William Kent: Architect, Designer, Painter, Gardener, 1685-1748 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984)

Wittkower, Rudolf, 'Lord Burlington and William Kent', Palladio and English Palladianism (London: Thames & Hudson, 1983)

Woodbridge, Kenneth, 'William Kent as Landscape Gardener: A Re-appraisal', Apollo, 100 (1974), pp. 126-37.

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