Kent, William 1635-1748

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William Kent was born in Yorkshire. He was "apprenticed" as a "Coach Painter" but this occupation did not satisfy him. He went to London where he developed friends who sent him to Rome, Italy, where he studied painting. He failed in this profession and became an architect and furniture designer. Finally states Johnson, "By the patronage of the Queen and through the interest of many noblemen, he was appointed Master Carpenter, Architect, Keeper of the Pictures and finally Chief Painter to the Crown."

His compatriots generally agreed that he was the "first general practicer of landscape gardening." Horace Walpole states that "where objects were wanting he introduced temples, etc., but he especially excelled in the management of water. The gentle stream was taught to serpentine seemingly at its pleasure, and where discontinued by different levels its course appeared to be concealed by thickets properly interspersed. And glittered again at a distance where I might be supposed naturally to arrive. Its sides were smoothed but preserved their meanderings, a few times scattered here and there on its hedges. And when it disappeared among the hills, shades descending from the heights leaned toward its vanishing point. He followed nature even in her faults. In Kensington Gardens he planted dead trees but soon laughed out of the excess. His ruling principle was that Nature allows a strait line."

He particularly carried out his ideas in the Great Stone estate, the residence of Lord Cobham.