Britain's greatest gardeners star in Bonhams' art sale



2015-07-03 10:11:07

Work by two of the greatest garden designers in British history will cross the block at Bonhams next week.

Sketches and designs by Humphry Repton and Lancelot 'Capability' Brown will be offered as art of the Bonhams Old Master Paintings Sale in London on 8 July.

The famous pair helped (literally) shape the landscape of Britain's greatest parks and gardens throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, defining archetypes which remain to this day.

Humphrey Repton was regarded as "the greatest garden architect of his age", and created gardens for many of England's foremost country houses. The painting offered at Bonhams, by George Sidney Shepherd, captures Repton's design for the gardens at Battlesdown House in Bedfordshire and features the owners the Page-Turner family admiring his handiwork. The rare painting is estimated at £15,000-£20,000.

Interestingly, the work also depicts another figure that played a major part in changing the landscape of Victorian Britain – Joseph Paxton. 

Paxton began life as the humble garden boy featured in Repton's painting, employed by the Page-Turner family at Battlesdown from his nearby home in Milton Bryan. He later rose to prominence as the head gardener at Chatsworth and later designed London's Crystal Palace – a remarkable feat for someone with no training in architecture or engineering.

The second lot on offer is a highly rare sketch by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, originating from his work at Blenheim Palace. Employed in 1764 by the 4th Duke of Marlborough, Brown redeveloped the 2,000 acre landscape including the addition of an enormous great lake. The sketch on offer depicts the view across the lake from Blenheim Palace towards the town of Woodstock, and is expected to sell for £70,000-£100,000.

"In their different ways these two works throw a fascinating and important light on the history of the English garden and the powerful influence of Brown and Repton in developing taste among the landed classes," said Andrew McKenzie, Bonhams Director of Old Masters.

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