Repton, Humphry

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Repton, Humphry (1752-1818): English landscape gardener.

Humphry Repton was born in Bury St. Edmunds. An adherent of Brown, Lancelot "Capability", Repton developed his own naturalistic, practical style. He was one of the most prominent exponents of landscape design from the late Eighteenth into the early Nineteenth Century. Like Brown he was a creative professional designer. His “Red Books” and “Green Books,” presented to his employers, show estates before and after his transformations. The phrase “improvement” is associated with Repton, whom Austen may be satirizing in Mansfield Park. Repton shared Pope, Alexander’s and Burlington’s belief that taste in landscape design signified one’s ideology, and he was Lockean in promoting an individual, empirical response to the garden.

He carried on a long debate with Richard Payne Knight and Uvedale Price, who favored landcapes influenced by Salvator Rosa's illusions of wildness. Repton’s replies appear in his “Letter,” reprinted in Sketches and Hints (1795). His hallmarks were gardens as social extensions of the houses they served. He turned increasingly to neoclassical regularity and architectural forms such as trellises, conservatories, shrubberies, raised flowerbeds, and terraces. The later style is described in Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1816). He designed London's squares, anticipating “gardinesque” designers William Robinson and John Claudius Loudon. Loudon edited his works as The Landscape Gardening and the Landscape Architecture of the late Humphry Repton, Esq . Being His Entire Works on These Subjects (1840).

Further Reading:

George Carter, Patrick Goode, and Laurie Kedrun, Humphry Repton, Landscape Gardener (1752-1818), 1982.

Mary Jane Curry

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