The first fully-rounded biography of Capability Brown, the genius who created the English landscape garden.
'Born to grace nature, and her works complete, With all that’s beautiful, sublime and great; For him each Muse enwreathes the Laurel Crown, And consecrates to Fame immortal Brown.' (Anon.)
Capability Brown changed the face of eighteenth-century England, designing country estates and mansions, moving hills and making flowing lakes and serpentine rivers, a magical world of green. This English landscape style spread across Europe and the world. At home, it was so politically pleasing and socially apt that his influence spread beyond walls and hedgerows into the lowland landscape at large, and into landscape painting. He stands behind our vision, and fantasy, of rural England.
In this vivid, lively biography, based on detailed research, Jane Brown paints an unforgettable picture of the man, his work, his happy domestic life, and his crowded world. She follows the life of the jovial yet elusive Mr Brown, from his childhood and apprenticeship in rural Northumberland, through his formative years
at Stowe, the most famous garden of the day. His private practice and innovatory ideas – and his affable and generous nature, and approachability (in a society of notoriously ‘grumpy’ professionals) - led to a meteoric rise to a Royal Appointment in 1764. This allowed the family to live in Wilderness House at Hampton Court, and Brown’s clients and friends ranged from statesmen like the elder Pitt to artists and actors like David Garrick. Riding constantly across England, he never ceased working until he collapsed and died in January 1783 after visiting one of his oldest clients. He was a practical man but also a visionary, always willing to try something new. As this delightful, and beautifully illustrated biography shows, Brown filled England with enchantment – eye-catchers, follies, cascades, lakes, pretty bridges, ornaments, monuments, meadows, woods and lanes - creating views that still enchant us today.