The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 4: British Gardens (1100-1830)

William Kent landscape gardens

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580. The various deviations from rigid uniformity, or, more correctly, the various attempts to succeed in the Chinese manner, appear to have taken a new and decisive character under the guidance of Kent; a circumstance, in our opinion, entirely owing to his having the ideas of a painter: for no mere gardener, occupied in imitating the Chinese, or even Italian manner, would ever have thought of studying to produce picturesque effect. Picturesque beauty, indeed, we consider to have been but little recognised in this country, except by painters, previously to the time of Pope, who was both a painter and a poet. The continued approbation of the modern style, as purified from the Chinese absurdities, originally more or less introduced with it, and continued in many places long after Kent's time, we consider to be chiefly owing to the circumstance of the study of drawing and landscape-painting having become a part of the general system of education; and thus, as Alison observes, our taste for natural beauty was awakened; 'the power of simple nature was felt and acknowledged, and the removal of the articles of acquired expression led men only more strongly to attend to the natural expression of scenery, and to study the means by which it might be maintained or improved.'