William Kent – the man who designed Georgian Britain

William Kent was one of the most influential architects and designers of 18th century Britain.

William Kent by William Aikman, c1723

Source: National Portrait Gallery London

William Kent by William Aikman, c1723

Working across interiors, sculpture, theatre design and landscaping (to name but a few disciplines) he is credited with introducing Palladian architecture to England, and his works include the Treasury and Horse Guards in London.

Armchair for Devonshire House, c1733-40

Source: Reproduced by permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees. Photography by Bruce White

Armchair for Devonshire House, c1733-40

He also worked on a smaller scale, designing richly upholstered furniture for his architectural commissions at Chiswick House and Wanstead House, and an even smaller scale, creating paintings and illustrated books.

The Gallery Chiswick House by William Henry Hunt 1828. Watercolour Devonshire Collection Chatsworth

Source: Reproduced by permission of the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

The Gallery Chiswick House by William Henry Hunt 1828. Watercolour Devonshire Collection Chatsworth

An exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, curated in collaboration with the Bard Graduate Centre in New York, will present a selection of Kent’s extensive oeuvre.

Console table for Chiswick House c.1727-32

Source: Victoria and Albert Museum London

Console table for Chiswick House c.1727-32

Nearly 200 examples of Kent’s work will go on show, including architectural drawings for his building designs, and examples of his furniture.

Design for the monument to Issac Newton at Westminster Abbey London c.1727.

Source: Victoria and Albert Museum London

Design for the monument to Issac Newton at Westminster Abbey London c.1727.

A section of the exhibition will be dedicated to Kent’s designs for Georgian royalty, including the Royal Barge for Frederick Prince of Wales, and Queen Caroline’s Library at St James’ Palace.

William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, is at the V&A, Cromwell Road, London SW7, from 22 March-13 July.

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