Humphry Repton: Landscape Design in an Age of Revolution

Reaktion. Dec. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781789142990. $50. GARDENING
Williamson (landscape history, Univ. of East Anglia; coauthor Lancelot Brown and the Capability Men) turns his attention to influential English landscape designer Humphry Repton. In this well-researched, scholarly title, Williamson builds on published works about Repton, in addition to his own studies. Williamson focuses on Repton’s style, the importance of architecture in his designs, and the text of his Red Books (books prepared for clients showcasing Repton’s designs, with watercolors showing before and after views). Williamson begins with a literature review of works about Repton, contrasts his work with other contemporary garden designers, and details the shared characteristics of Repton’s designs for parklands and pleasure gardens. He discusses Repton’s life and how he developed his business and obtained clients, from established landowners in the aristocracy to the newly prosperous. Williamson also speculates on possible people who influenced Repton and those Repton may have influenced.
VERDICT Richly illustrated with examples from Repton’s Red Books and concluding with extensive references and a bibliography, this volume sets Repton and his work firmly in the life and times of the late 1700s–early 1800s in a book that will appeal to those who enjoy reading about garden designers of the past, or garden history.
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