Lancelot Brown (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: Building on the pioneering work of William Kent, Brown brought to perfection the “natural” school of landscaping. This school, using only trees, water, and lawns, sought to transform the estates of the English gentry into vast prospects which, while appearing to be the work of nature, were meant to be superior, aesthetically, to anything nature could do.
Lancelot Brown’s nickname, “Capability,” came from his habit of speaking, as he rode his horse over an estate, of its “capabilities” for improvement under his hands as a landscaper. He was born in a remote area of northern England sometime in 1716. Little is known of his family. Presumably his father was a yeoman farmer. A recent biographer, Thomas Hinde, conjectures, on the basis of various bits of circumstantial evidence and a local tradition, that Brown was the illegitimate son of the local squire, Sir William Loraine. Brown attended school until the age of sixteen, far beyond the age customary for lads of his social class. His education, together with his native intelligence, served him well all of his life, giving him the mathematics necessary for his profession and enabling him to consort easily with the great figures of the age. After his schooling ended, Brown worked locally as a gardener. It was in this early period that he learned the essentials of his profession: the use of tools, the raising of young plants and...
(The entire section is 2411 words.)
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