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William Kent - Architect, Designer, Opportunist by Timothy Mowl, 298 pages

A con man who became one of the artistic geniuses of his age, William Kent (1685-1748) was a high camp Yorkshire bachelor, brought back by Lord Burlington from an artistic apprenticeship in Rome where he had painted for a cardinal and won prizes from a pope. England was in stylistic chaos after rejecting its lawful Stuart rulers and Burlington was imposing Palladianism on a philistine island people. Kent saw his chance and never looked back.

Queen Caroline used him to project in sensational garden buildings by the Thames at Richmond; Sir Robert Walpole paid him to turn Houghton Hall in Norfolk into an imperial palace; Henry Pelham built with Kent a revolutionary suburban bolt hole in Surrey and between them they invented the Gothic Revival out at Esher. Kent discovered his true genius though laying out casually at Esher, Stowe in Buckinghamshire and Rousham near Oxford the Arcadian image of the 'English Garden' that would take the continent (even France) by storm as England's only original contribution to European culture.
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  • Seller location: Wellington City, Wellington, NZ

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