William Kent

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William Kent (c. 1685 – 12 April 1748), born in Bridlington, Yorkshire, was an eminent English architect, landscape architect and furniture designer of the early 18th century.

He was baptised (on 1 January 1686) as William Cant.[1]



Kent's career began as a sign and coach painter who was encouraged to study art, design and architecture by his employer. A group of Yorkshire gentlemen sent Kent for a period of study in Rome, he set sail on the 22nd July 1709 from Deal, Kent, arriving at Livorno on the 15th October[2]. By the 18th November he was in Florence staying there until April 1710. Finally setting off for Rome. In 1713 he was awarded the second medal in the second class for painting in the annual competition run by the Accademia di San Luca for his painting of A Miracle of S. Andrea Avellino.[3] He also met several important figures Thomas Coke, later 1st Earl of Leicester, with whom he toured Northern Italy in the summer of 1714 (a tour that led Kent to an appreciation of the architectural style of Andrea Palladio's palaces in Vicenza). Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni in Rome, for whom he apparently painted some pictures, though no records survive. During his stay in Rome, he painted the ceiling of the church of San Giuliano dei Fiamminghi (Church of St. Julian of the Flemings) with the Apotheosis of St. Julian[4]. The most significant meeting was between Kent and Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington. Kent left Rome for the last time in the autumn of 1719, he met Lord Burlington briefly at Genoa, Kent journeying onto Paris where Lord Burlington later joined him for the final journey back to England before the end of the year. As a painter, he displaced Sir James Thornhill in decorating the new state rooms at Kensington Palace, London; for Burlington, he decorated Chiswick House and Burlington House.

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