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William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain - William Kent’s Designs for Parliament

In the 1730s William Kent worked on a series of designs for an entirely new, self-contained Parliament House. Initially working in collaboration with his friend and patron Lord Burlington, Kent quickly developed his own ideas about how the power of parliamentary ministers could be represented through architecture. He envisaged the new Parliament building as a fully mature statement of the Anglo-Palladian style and his designs were heavily influenced by Italian examples. At the same time his schemes also show awareness of the developments that were taking place in the nature of British government during this period, and the changing spatial requirements of Parliament.

Although ultimately unrealised, this was a major project for which Kent proposed several different schemes over a period of eight years (1733-39). However until now his designs for Parliament have been relatively under-studied. As part of the research project surrounding ‘William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain’, Dr Frank Salmon, Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Cambridge, has for the first time reconstructed the complex sequence of Kent’s schemes for Parliament House. Dr Salmon’s research is summarised in this video.

View transcript of video

For more information about Kent’s public commissions, which include the Treasury Building and Horse Guards, please see Dr Salmon’s chapter in Susan Weber, William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain (Yale University Press, 2013).

Organised by the Bard Graduate Center, New York City and the V&A.
Support generously provided by The Ruddock Foundation for the Arts.
With thanks to the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of The Selz Foundation.

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