Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
According to Horace Walpole, Kent "was a painter, an architect, and the father of modern gardening. In the first character he was below mediocrity; in the second, he was a restorer of the science; in the last, an original, and the inventor of an art that realizes painting and improves nature. Mahomet imagined an elysium, Kent created many."
A group of Yorkshire gentlemen sent Kent for a period of study in Rome, where he met Thomas Coke, later 1st Earl of Leicester , with whom he toured Northern Italy in the summer of 1714, a tour that led Kent to an appreciation of the architectural style of Andrea Palladio's palaces in Vicenza, and Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, who took him back to England in 1719. As a painter, he displaced Sir James Thornhill in decorating the new state rooms at Kensington Palace, London; for Burlington, he decorated Chiswick House and Burlington House.
He is better remembered as the central architect of the revived Palladian style in England. Burlington gave him the task of editing The Designs of Inigo Jones... with some additional designs in the Palladian/Jonesian taste by Burlington and Kent, which appeared in 1727. As he rose through the royal architectural establishment, the Board of Works, Kent applied this style to several public buildings in London, for which Burlington's patronage secured him the commissions: the Royal Mews at Charing Cross (1731-33, demolished in 1830), the Treasury buildings in Whitehall (1733-37), the Horse Guards building in Whitehall, (designed shortly before his death and built 1750 - 59). These neo-antique buildings were inspired as much by the architecture of Raphael and Giulio Romano as by Palladio.
In country house building, major commissions for Kent were designing the interiors of Houghton Hall (ca 1725 - 35), recently built by Colen Campbell for Sir Robert Walpole, but at Holkham Hall the most complete embodiment of Palladian ideals is still to be found; there Kent collaborated with Thomas Coke, the other "architect earl", and had for an assistant Matthew Brettingham, whose own architecture would carry Palladian ideals into the next generation. A theatrically Baroque staircase and parade rooms in London, at 44, Berkeley Square, are also notable. Kent's domed pavilions were erected at Badminton House and at Euston Hall.
As a landscape designer, he is one of the originators of the English landscape garden , a style of ‘natural’ gardening that revolutionized the English garden design. (Charles Bridgeman's impact on Kent is often underestimated.) He worked on Stowe, Buckinghamshire from ca 1730 onwards, at Alexander Pope's villa garden at Twickenham, for Queen Caroline at Richmond and notably at Rousham, creating a sequence of Arcadian setpieces punctuated with temples, cascades, grottoes, Palladian bridges and exedrae, and opening the field for the broader achievements of Capability Brown in the following generation. His all-but-lost gardens at Claremont, Surrey, have recently been restored. It is often said that he was not above planting dead trees to create the mood he required.
His stately furniture designs complemented his interiors: he designed furnishings for Hampton Court Palace, 1732, for Devonshire House , London, and at Rousham . The royal barge he designed for Frederick, Prince of Wales can still be seen at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
In his own age, Kent's fame and popularity were so great that he was employed to give designs for all things, even for ladies' birthday dresses, of which he could know nothing and which he decorated with the five classical orders of architecture. These and other absurdities drew upon him the satire of William Hogarth who, in October 1725, produced a Burlesque on Kent's Altarpiece in St. Clement Danes.
William Kent Born in Bridlington, Yorkshire, in 1658 William Kent would become inspirational designer during a time of reason, romanticism and revolution. Kent was a sign and coach painter before becoming interested in landscape art. It was Kent’s employers that influenced him to peruse education in design and architecture. It has been noted in most text that Kent’s talent of painting was not comparable to his passion and vision. Kent died in 1748 and his featured works are not that of extravagant structures or masterful paintings, but a style of ‘natural’ gardening that revolutionized the English design of the garden. William Kent once said, “All gardening is a landscape painting.” A concept that I am sure all landscape designers know too well. Kent success is attributed to his range of professions being an architect, theater set designer, and painter. With this diversity his design of landscape gave way to the principles of light, form, spacing, and color. Painting and theater design are the two most influential for both require certain light elements and spacing that set the mood for the viewer. Kent was known for doing just that in his landscape design. He was not above planting dead stumps to create the mood he required.(Ross, 2001, p.1) Other influences can be found in the time he spent in Rome where he studied painting. Italy at that time was the center of almost all styles of design, painting, and architecture. Kent designers of the garden were influence by the French classical garden especially that of architect Sir John Vandburgh. Charles Bridgeman also had an impact on Kent, there were often worked together and sometimes in sequence. Kent only real downfall was his lack in knowledge of horticulture and technical skill that people like Bridgeman possessed, but his naturalistic style of design did more than make up for it. The Claremont, Stowe, and Rousham houses are places where the joint efforts can be viewed. The Stowe and Rousham houses are Kent’s most famous works. At Rousham House, Kent elaborated on Bridgeman 1720s design for the property. Adding things like walls and arches to catch the eye of the viewer. At the Stowe house Kent used his experiences in Italy to give the manor a Romanist design. A key piece of the Stowe residence is the Palladian Bridge; it is what captures the feeling of Rome that Kent was trying to deliver. In both these sites Kent incorporated his naturalistic views and lighting concepts.
At a time when the British Empire had a far reaching stretch across the sea the America’s an England was “leaping the fence.” Historians say it was the golden age for Britannia and English upper-class wanted to experience the grandeur that was Rome. This was expressed in a way of design of great houses that were surrounded by lavish green pastures. Nature was the center for most designers, they took the French classical style garden and put in the own simplified spin on it. It was the English country side where this revolution was taking hold. Grand neoclassical bridges, long shaded walk ways, and groves of deciduous trees. All this in the name of king and country, for the political message was that of the absolute monarchy that was ruling.
William Kent put the design in landscape design. Not being extremely knowledgeable in horticulture he had to focus on his visions. He put a focus on the overall feel of the site. His uses of lighting and always adding aspects of luxury to the garden while keeping it relatively simple is what set Kent apart from his colleagues. The Stowe house most portrays these ideals. I believe that Kent is a very important part of the evolutionary process that brought landscape architecture
Bibliography Ross, David (2000). William Kent. Britain Express, 1-2. Retrieved September 26, 2004, from http://www.britainexpress.com/Historry/bi/ken/htm
Rogers, E. (1936). Landscape design a cultural and architectural history. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated.
Newton, N. (1971). Design of the land. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
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