The England of William Kent


Fall 2013


Gallery Classroom, 18 West 86th Street


Jeffrey L. Collins

William Kent (c. 1685-1748) was a dominant artistic figure of his age, active as a painter, architect, and designer of landscapes, interiors, and interior furnishings from sofas to silver. His life also spans important milestones in British history, from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 through the Act of Union of 1707, Marlborough’s defeat of Louis XIV in 1714, the installation of the Hanoverian dynasty, and the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48). This seminar, coinciding with the BGC exhibition William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, aims to place Kent’s work in historical and conceptual context. Using the exhibition as a touchstone, participants will explore the arts in England from 1680 to 1750, studying topics including the impact of Huguenot and Continental artists and craftsmen in the entourage of William and Mary; the urban development of London; the English Baroque; Italianate decorative painting under Antonio Verrio, James Thornhill and others; Colen Campbell, Lord Burlington, and English neo-Palladianism; the English landscape garden; William Hogarth and the St. Martin’s Lane Academy; portraiture and the conversation piece; the British Rococo; Chinoiserie and exoticism; the Grand Tour and collecting; and the Britain’s colonial and mercantile expansion overseas. Meetings will take place in the classroom and in the galleries, with participants taking the lead in presenting selected objects to the group and organizing thematic visits to the exhibition. 3 credits. Satisfies pre-1800 requirement