Capability Brown

Brown, Capability (Lancelot Brown), 1715–83, English landscape gardener, b. Kirkharle, Northumberland. The leading landscape gardener of his time, he is known for designing gardens that broke with the French formal tradition. He favored a distinctively English style of grandly picturesque, natural-appearing, and asymmetrically structured landscapes replete with groves of trees, expansive lawns, meandering streams, and sylvan lakes. Brown began as a young gardener to the gentry and, working at the famous gardens at Stowe during the 1740s, became a disciple of William Kent. In 1749 he became a consulting gardener and earned his nickname by often telling clients that their properties had "capabilities." Brown created many of the most important gardens of the 18th cent., including those at Petworth House, Kew, Blenheim Palace, Ashburnham Place, and Warwick Castle. He also designed several country houses.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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