Kent, William

, an ingenious artist, was born in Yorkshire, in 1685, and put apprentice to a coach-painter, but, feeling the superiority of his talents, he left his master, and came up to London, where he soon proved himself worthy of encouragement and patronage. In 1710 he was sent, by the munificence of some gentlemen of his own country, to Rome, whither he accompanied Mr. Tallman. There he studied under Cavalier Luti, and in the academy gained the second prize of the second class. He also became acquainted with lord Burlington, whose sagacity discovered the rich vein of genius that had been hid even from himself; and, on their return to England in 1719, lodged him in his own house, and shewed for him all the marks of the most disinterested friendship. By his interest he was employed in various works, both as a painter in history and portrait; and yet there appear but very faint traces of that creative talent he displayed in a sister art. His portraits did not resemble the persons that sat for them. His colouring was worse than that of the most errant journeyman to the profession; and his drawing was defective, witness the | hall at Wanstead, and his picture at St. Clement’s. Fie designed some of the drawings of Gay’s Fables, the prints for Spenser’s Fairy Queen, and the vignettes to the large edition of Pope’s works. In architecture, however, of the ornamental kind, he was deservedly admired he executed the temple of Venus at Stowe the earl of Leicester’s house at Holkham in Norfolk; the great hall at Mr. Pelham’s, Arlington-street; and the stair-case at lady Isabella Finch’s in Berkeley-square. Mr. Walpole considers him likewise as the inventor of modern gardening, in which it is certain that he excelled, and every thing in that branch has been since his time more natural, graceful, and pleasing. By the patronage of the dukes of Grafton and Newcastle, Mr. Pelham, and the earl of Burlington, he was made master-carpenter, architect, keeper of the pictures, and, after the death of Jervas, principal painter to the crown; the whole, including a pension of 100l. a year, which was given him for his works at Kensington, produced 600l. a year. In 1743 he was disordered in his eyes, but recovered, and in March 1748 an inflammation in his bowels put an end to his life at Burlington-house, April 12, 1748, aged sixty-three years. He was buried in lord Burlington’s vault at Chiswick. 1


Walpole’s Anecdotes, and Essay ou Gardening. Bowles’s Edition of Pope’s Works; see Index.