William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain (September 20 - February 9) is the first major exhibition to examine the life and career of one of the most influential designers in eighteenth-century Britain. As most of his best known surviving works are in Britain’s great country houses, the exhibition is rich in loans from private as well as public collections.
On view at the Bard Graduate Center, the exhibition features elaborate drawings for architecture, gardens and sculpture, to furniture, silver, paintings, illustrated books and new documentary films.
Kent is best known for the interiors he designed for several grand country estates in Britain, and for his approach in taking responsibility for the design of the entire interior from the painting and furniture to the sculpture and decoration. Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to explore a few of Kent’s best-known early interiors, such as Chiswick House, Wanstead House, and Houghton Hall, Kent’s most important early commission for the grand estate of Sir Robert Walpole, and one of the key buildings in the history of Palladian architecture.
Curated by Susan Weber and Julius Bryant, the exhibition is divided into ten sections that introduce specific aspects of Kent’s work, including signature private and royal commissions, and important periods in his career. In addition, related gallery programs and a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue edited by Weber, and published by the Yale University Press, accompany the exhibition.
Presenting 21 essays by leading scholars of eighteenth-century British art, architecture and design, including Bryant, Geoffrey Beard, John Harris, John Dixon Hunt, Frank Salmon, and David Watkin, it is richly illustrated with over 600 color images, including the pieces featured in the exhibition.
A chronology of Kent’s projects, an exhibition checklist, and an extensive bibliography round out this publication.
The exhibition was put together by the Bard Graduate Center and the V&A Museum in London. It is sponsored by the Rothschild Foundation, Edward Lee Cave, Dr. H. Woody Brock, Philip Hewat-Jaboor, Christie’s, John A. Werwaiss, Patricia and Martin Levy, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Friends of the BADA Trust, Ronald Phillips, LTD., and two donors who wish to remain anonymous.