The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Section I. Historical Sketches.

Horace Walpole and William Kent

Previous - Next

The change in the popular feeling thus created, soon gave rise to innovations in the practical art. Bridgeman, the fashionable garden artist of the time, struck, as Horace Walpole thinks, by Pope's criticisms, banished verdant sculpture from his plans, and introduced bits of forest scenery in the gardens at Richmond. And Loudon and Wise, the two noted nurserymen of the day, laid out Kensington gardens anew in a manner so much more natural as to elicit the warm commendations of Addison in the Spectator. It is not too much to say that Kent was the leader of this class. Originally a painter, and the friend of Lord Burlington, he next devoted himself to the subject, and was, undoubtedly, the first professional landscape gardener in the modern style. Previous artists had confined their efforts within the rigid walls of the garden, but Kent, who saw in all nature a garden-landscape, demolished the walls, introduced the ha-ha, and by blending the park and the garden, substituted for the primness of the old inclosure, the freedom of the pleasure-ground. His taste seems to have been partly formed by Pope, and the Twickenham garden was the prototype of those of Carlton House, Kent's chef d'ワuvre. And, notwithstanding his faults, "his temples, obelisks, and gazabos of every description in the park, all stuck about in their respective high places," notwithstanding that his passion for natural effects led him into the absurdity of sometimes planting an old dead tree to make the illusion more perfect, we have no hesitation in according to Kent the merit of first fully establishing, in practice, the reform in taste which Addison and Pope had so completely developed in theory.