William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain at the V&A Museum.

William Kent, Esher PlaceDesign for a Neo-Palladian Villa overlooking Waynflete’s Tower, Esher Place 1730-1735
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

An exhibition examining the life and work of William Kent, one of the leading designers of early Georgian Britain, has opened at the V&A museum.

William Kent was a polymath who turned his hand to painting, architecture and landscape gardening. The show includes numerous examples of his work in Surrey, highlighting Esher Place and Claremont Gardens as particular points of interest.

Kent remodelled the landscape at Esher Place from about 1733 onwards as part of a larger scheme for Henry Pelham, who later served as Prime Minister. Kent’s designs are some of the most remarkable in the history of European gardening and prompted considerable praise. Poet Alexander Pope said that ‘in Esher’s peaceful Grove… Kent and Nature vye for Pelham’s love.’ Esher was dubbed ‘Kentissime’ by the writer Horace Walpole, meaning Kent at his most Kentian. Kent was influenced by Italian Baroque art, which is felt in the exhibition.

William Kent William Kent by William Aikman, ca. 1723–25. Oil on canvas 
© National Portrait Gallery, London.

The show brings together nearly 200 examples of William Kent’s work including architectural drawings, striking gilt furniture, detailed drawings for landscape gardens and intricate wooden models of imposing buildings.

It’s a very interesting exhibition and well worth a visit!

William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain is on at the V&A until 13th July 2014. Tickets: £8 (concessions available)
V&A is open daily 10am – 5.45pm and until 10pm every Friday. 

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