William Kent 1685-1748
William Kent was famed for the introduction of the Palladian style to England in the early half of the 18th century. Not only was he a furniture designer but also an architect, painter and garden designer. Much like his later follower Robert Adam, he believed in the unity of all “design” aspects to combine together to produce a finished whole. William Kent was hugely inspired by the Grand Tour, most notably the work of Palladio and his Villa Rotunda. He brought Roman-influenced symbolic decoration like the Venus-shell and Jupiter’s sacred oak into fashion. Under the patronage of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, William Kent rose in prominence, and as he rose he did so through the royal architectural establishment, the Board of Works. His commissions include work on the interior of Kensington Palace, Whitehall and private houses such as Badminton and arguably, most importantly Stowe. Whilst most of these were in William Kent’s capacity as an architect and landscape gardener it was this expressed classicism that finds its way so readily into his furniture design making him one of the leading lights of the early 18th century.