There is no doubt that Yorkshire designer William Kent has left a lasting impression on Britain's architectural trends, and now the Victoria and Albert is commemorating his work at a new exhibition.
William Kent was a leading architect in early Georgian Britain, shifting from painting and sculpture to decoration, furniture, architecture, garden landscaping, and even theatrical design. As the new Hanoverian Royal Family ascended to power in Britain in 1714, Kent's life took an interesting turn, and it is this pivotal point in British history that is celebrated in the exhibit.
After a period of time travelling across Italy, Kent arrived back in England in 1714, at a time when the last stuart monarch, Queen Anne, died and George I began a new dynasty for the country. At this time, artistic influences from France and the Low Countries that had been associated with the Stuarts quickly went out of fashion and people turned to the modern styles of Italy – this is where William Kent came in. Kend worked with Lord Burlington to use the designs of classical architect Vitruvius to create something truly innovative and exciting.
Kent was commissioned by the Royal family to represent them artistically, and his first large project was to paint the new state rooms at Kensington Palace, and he soon became the official architect to the Prince of Wales in 1732.
The show is a partnership between the V&A and the Bard Graduate Centre, and it allows visitors to come up close and personal with around 200 pieces from the museum's archives, as well as loans contributed from private collections. These include furnishings from Houghton Hall and Chiswick House, garden designs for Stow and architectural sketches for the Treasury and Horse Guards.
The exhibition will be running from March 22nd to July 13th. Be sure to book into one of the many hotels in London available to make a real weekend of it.