In 2006, Timothy Mowl wrote that William Kent was the 'greatest designer of the eighteenth century', but this was followed only moments after by the claim that he was 'often third-rate or disastrous'. The eighteenth century architecture is considered as something of a controversial figure by both historians and his contemporaries. So was Kent's work brilliant or appalling, was it tasteful or crude? Maybe it depends on the medium.
Kent went to Rome to study painting, but even under the tutelage of master, Guiseppe Chiari, he never really excelled. His trip to Italy none-the-less had a profound impact on his future, and the future appearance of Britain. Kent was heavily influenced by Italian architecture, and when he returned to England, implemented many of the designs into his work. One of the best examples is Holkham Hall in Norfolk, which was an attempt to recreate a Roman villa.
You can discover how William Kent ended up Designing Georgian Britain at an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which runs between the 22nd March - 13th July. Tickets are £9 for adults, £8 seniors, and £6 for students and children. There are numerous talks and events to attend, the first of which is a family pop-up performance during the May half term. There is also a four week short course exploring the architecture of The English Country House.