Kent was an important figure in garden-history, for he was in the vanguard of the revolution against the formal gardens of the C17, and combined Palladian architecture with the contrived ‘naturalness’ of the park. He created landscapes that were comparable to the pictures of Claude or Poussin (as at Rousham, Oxon. (1738–41)), and so must be regarded as a pioneer of the Picturesque in English landscape-design, and indeed was in the vanguard of the movement in opposition to the formal garden of C17. He also designed in the Gothick style, notably the choir-screen, Gloucester Cathedral (1741—destroyed), and the pulpit at York Minster (1741—burned, 1829), published by John Vardy (1744), which may have been the source of some of the Gothick elements in St John's Church, Shobdon, Herefs. (1746–56).
Kent's mastery of the Baroque style may best be seen in his funerary monuments, e.g. the huge memorial to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650–1722), in Blenheim Palace Chapel, Oxon., carved by John Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770), of 1730–3.
Cruickshank (ed.) (1985);
J. Curl (2002a);
M. McCarthy (1987);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Hunt & Willis (eds.) (1989);
Jane Turner (1996);
M. Wilson (1984)
William Kent, 1685–1748, English landscape gardener, architect, and painter. A minor painter, Kent made ceiling decorations for Kensington Palace. He greatly influenced landscape gardening by changing the prevailing artificial style to one based more closely on nature, as in the gardens at Rousham. As an architect, he followed Neo-Palladian tenets and adhered to strictly symmetrical planning, especially in his masterpiece, Holkham Hall, Norfolk (begun 1734). In London he planned the treasury building (1734) and the Horse Guards building (erected after his death, 1750–58).
See study by M. Jourdain (1948).