William Kent

We finally made it to the William Kent exhibition – ‘Kentino’ as he was known by Lady Burlington.   He came across as more solid and serious than I had expected, spending a seriously long time in Italy, acting partly as a dealer in pictures, a copyist and supplier of antiquities, and I had never seen the magnificent pearwood model he produced as a design for a new Royal palace.   He absorbed so much of Italian baroque style that he was able to glitz up the interiors of dour neo-Palladian houses on his return.   But he was a terrible painter and so much of his work was on decorative schemes that it is easier to understand his talent in the state rooms of Burlington House, in Chiswick House, Holkham and Houghton than it is in an exhibition.


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