Brown, Lancelot (DNB00)
BROWN, LANCELOT (1715–1783), landscape-gardener and architect, known as ‘Capability Brown,’ was born in 1715 at Hardie-Kirk, Northumberland. He was originally a kitchen gardener in the employment of Lord Cobham at Stow. His remarkable faculty for prejudging landscape effects soon, however, procured in the patronage of persons of rank and taste. Humphrey Repton treats Brown as the founder of the modern or English style of landscape-gardening, which superseded the geometric style, brought to its perfection by André Le Nostre (b. 12 March 1613; d. 15 Sept. 1700) at Versailles. The praise of originating the new style is, however, due to William Kent (b. 1384; d. 12 April 1748), but Brown worked independently and with greater genius. His leading aim was to bring out the undulating lines of the natural landscape. He laid out or remodelled the grounds at Kew, Blenheim, and Nuneham Courtenay. His style degeneratcd into a mannerism which insisted on finishing every landscape with the same set of features; but this declension is to be attributed to the deficiencies of those who had worked under him, and took him as their model. Of Brown’s architectural works a full list is given by Repton, beginning in 1751 with Croome, where he built the house, church, &c. for the Earl of Coventry. His exteriors were often very clumsy, but all his country mansions were constructed with great success as regards internal comfort and convenience. He realised a large fortune, and by his amiable manners and high character he supported with dignity the station of a country gentleman. In 1770 he was high sheriff of Huntingdonshire. He died on 6 Feb, 1783. His son, Lancelot Brown, was M.P. for Huntingdonshire.
[Repton’s Landscape Gardening and Landscape Architecture. ed. J. C. London, 1840, pp. 30, 266, 327, 520; Knight's English Cyclopædia, Biography, 1866, i. 950; Jal's Dict. Crit. de Biog. et Hist., 1867, p. 773.]