The Gardener

Lancelot (Capability) Brown (1716 – 1783) was the supreme landscape gardener and subject of a new biography which values his work for being as much scientific as artistic. He mastered the technique of creating his own order within a natural setting, making the whole look as though nothing had been done by human intervention.

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Appropriately, he shunned celebrity and ignored glamorous social occasions. But he rose to fame with royal commissions and a salary of £2,000 a year. He even commanded an extra £100 for ‘raising pineapples’.

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He had a staff of 20 foremen supervising site work on contracts at Hampton Court, Richmond, and more than 150 estates including those at Stowe, Blenheim (below left) and Chatsworth (above and below, right).

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Capability Brown and His Landscape Gardens by Sarah Rutherford is published this month by National Trust Books.