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Mr William Kent

William Kent was an influential figure in 18th-century Britain, renowned as a landscape architect, designer, painter and furniture designer. Born in 1685 in Bridlington, Yorkshire, Kent showed an early inclination towards art, studying painting in Rome where he was exposed to the works of Italian masters, originally training as a coach and theatrical scenery painter. His time in Italy profoundly influenced his aesthetic sensibilities and artistic approach.

Kent's return to England marked the beginning of his illustrious career. He 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. He gained recognition for his landscape designs, which departed from the formal, geometric styles prevalent in England at the time. His innovative approach incorporated natural elements like rolling lawns, strategically placed trees, and serpentine paths, reflecting the emerging trend of English landscape gardening.

His breakthrough came when he was appointed by Lord Burlington, a prominent patron of the arts, as a painter and architectural designer. This collaboration led to Kent's involvement in the Palladian revival, where he played a pivotal role in popularizing the Palladian style in England. His architectural designs often blended classical elements with his own artistic interpretations, contributing significantly to the Palladian movement's spread across Britain.

Kent's versatility extended beyond landscape and architecture. He was also a skilled furniture designer, creating pieces that merged functionality with artistic elegance. His designs showcased a fusion of classical motifs and contemporary aesthetics, leaving a lasting impact on English furniture craftsmanship.


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  2. Harris, John. "William Kent: Architect, Designer, Painter, Gardener, 1685-1748." Routledge, 2013.
  3. Summerson, John. "Architecture in Britain, 1530-1830." Yale University Press, 1993.

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

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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.go... > [accessed 29 November 2008]

National Portrait Gallery, Search the Collections, 'William Kent (1685?-1748), Architect' < > [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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