Exhibition: William Kent, Designing Georgian Britain

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The Victoria and Albert Museum is currently hosting an excellent exhibition on the live and work of one of England’s most influential designers, William Kent. The exhibition brings together drawings, furniture, prints and models and combines these with audio visual projections that illustrate some of his most accomplished projects. This exhibition clearly illustrates the fact that the brilliance of Kent lies not in his merit as architect, designer or painter specifically but more in his virtuoso ability to combine these disciplines in a unifying ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’.

"The Rooms were fitted up by Mr Kent, and consequently there is a great dela of gilding..."

“The Rooms were fitted up by Mr Kent, and consequently there is a great dela of gilding…” Lord Oxford

All the most important commissions such as Chiswick House, Holkham Hall, Rousham, are well represented. Some of his flights of fancy are also included such his less common projects in an early Gothic revival taste or an imaginative Chinoiserie pavilion. There is a good balance between works on paper and objects. A silver chandelier and an epergne demonstrate his ability to transpose his style on very different objects. An unexecuted model for Richmond Palace is both centrepiece and highlight of the exhibition.

Model for a new palace at Richmond

Model for a new palace at Richmond