Garden Designer Humphry Repton - a short history 1752-1818
Humphry Repton is the last great English landscape designer of the 18th century. Often regarded as the successor to ‘Capability’ Brown, he introduced the themed garden and influenced garden design throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Born the son of a wealthy tax collector on 21 April 1752, Humphry Repton was schooled in Norwich before being sent to Holland at the age of 12 to learn Dutch and the trade of a merchant. Returning to Norfolk, he married Mary Clarke in 1773 and moved to a small country estate at Sustead, near Aylsham. He travelled extensively in Europe and Ireland, honing his writing and painting skills, and acquiring many aristocratic acquaintances.
His several business ventures failed to make enough money to support his wife and four children and they moved to a modest cottage in Hare Street, Essex. In 1788 at the age of 36, he decided overnight to become a landscape gardener, combining his skills as a painter with the small experience he had of laying out the grounds at Sustead.
Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown had died five years earlier and Humphry Repton seized the opportunity to fill the gap. He contacted all his wealthy acquaintances for commissions and was rewarded with immediate success. Where Brown had provided his clients with plans, Repton used his artistic skills to produce beautiful before-and-after watercolour paintings to convey his ideas. These he presented to clients in the form of his trademark ‘Red Book’ complete with explanatory notes in his beautiful copperplate handwriting.
Humphry Repton also wrote many books on Garden Design, including ‘Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening’ in 1795, ‘Observations on the Theory of Landscape Gardening’ in 1803 and ‘An Enquiry into the Changes in Taste in Landscape Gardening’ in 1806.
Repton created vistas in the landscape incorporating existing landmarks, such as at Blaise Castle, Bristol. He introduced colour and form around the house with the introduction of formal terraces, balustrades and flower-filled beds and these can be seen at Endsleigh House in Devon and Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire. He also created fabulous woodland walks at Sheringham Hall in Norfolk, Antony in Cornwall and Rode Hall, Cheshire.
Following a carriage accident in 1811 Humphry Repton spent much of his time in a wheelchair and died in 1818. He is buried in Aylsham, Norfolk.
© Copyright of Lifechart 2007
Size shown is inside frame measurement
Mounted on 40mm deep wooden frame
159mm square with 350-word feature
Size shown is approx. image area
All prices inclusive of VAT. P&P additional.