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Brown, Capability

Capability Brown (Lancelot Brown), 1715–83, English landscape gardener, b. Kirkharle, Northumberland. The leading landscape gardener of his time, he is known for designing gardens that broke with the French formal tradition. He favored a distinctively English style of grandly picturesque, natural-appearing, and asymmetrically structured landscapes replete with groves of trees, expansive lawns, meandering streams, and sylvan lakes. Brown began as a young gardener to the gentry and, working at the famous gardens at Stowe during the 1740s, became a disciple of William Kent. In 1749 he became a consulting gardener and earned his nickname by often telling clients that their properties had "capabilities." Brown created many of the most important gardens of the 18th cent., including those at Petworth House, Kew, Blenheim Palace, Ashburnham Place, and Warwick Castle. He also designed several country houses.

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Brown, ‘Capability’

Brown, ‘Capability’ (Lancelot) (1715–83) English landscape gardener who revolutionized garden and parkland layout in the 1700s. He designed or remodelled nearly 150 estates, including gardens at Blenheim and Kew. He worked to achieve casual effects, with scattered groups of trees and gently rolling hills. He earned his nickname from a habit of saying that a place had “capabilities of improvement”.

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