Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716-1783) – Thursday 7th April 2016

by Dr. Twigs Way

Born in the small village of Kirkharle in Northumberland, Lancelot Brown rose to become the most famous landscape designer in England, incidentally refusing to work in Ireland as he had ‘not yet finished England’. Working with contours, water and trees, he created landscapes so breathtakingly natural the poet Whitehead commented that only Dame Nature could distinguish between his work and hers. At sites such as Petworth, Blenheim., Stowe, Bowood, Luton Hoo and Croome Court, Brown used the land as his canvas. His naturalistic style gently echoed the Italian artists of the previous centuries and was itself further popularised in contemporary paintings of landscape as fashions in late C18th art turned from artifice to nature or, more correctly, to artificial nature.

Rising to the position of Chief Gardener to George 111, Brown resided in the grace and favour Wilderness House at Hampton Court where, ironically, he insisted on maintaining the formal gardens.

In the 300th Anniversary year of his birth, this talk will consider the life and work of Brown and examine the accolades and the charges laid at his feet  – genius or vandal, artist or copyist? The talk is illustrated with images of Brownian landscapes both in reality and in painting.

Dr. Twigs Way

Garden historian, author, researcher and lecturer, Dr. Twigs Way presented Lost Gardens for Channel 4 and has appeared on Gardeners’ World as well as making media apearances on a wide range of garden history related topics. She carries out freelance research into the history of specific gardens and parks, for bodies such as English Heritage, the National Trust and various private clients. She has a specific interest in the portrayal of plant and gardens in art and literature and the social aspects of garden history. Her publications include A History of Women in the Garden, the highly illustrated A Nation of Gardeners and a short biography of Gertrude Jekyll as well as the quirky History of Garden Gnomes! She is currently working on the C18th diaries of Marchioness Grey of Wrest Park and is also involved in this year’s tercentenary celebrations of one of our greatest landscape designers, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.