Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818

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English landscape gardener and architect.

From the description of Autobiographical letter, 1812 May 1. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 80025773

Repton was professionally consulted to remark upon improvement of Witton, Woodhouse's country estate, primarily its landscape.

From the description of Witton in Norfolk : holograph ms. / H[umphry] Repton. 1801. (University of Florida). WorldCat record id: 11426913

Repton was an Irish landscape painter and writer.

From the description of Plans, hints and sketches for making pleasure-ground on the banks of the lake at Holkham..., [1789?]. (Winterthur Library). WorldCat record id: 122548196

English landscape gardener.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Stonelands Park [E. Sussex], to Lord Sheffield, 1805 Dec. 22. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270872163

English architect and landscape designer.

From the description of Humphry Repton architecture and landscape designs, 1807-1813. (Getty Research Institute). WorldCat record id: 82491002

Humphry Repton was born in Bury St. Edmunds in 1752, son of John and Martha Repton. He was educated in Bury and Norwich, before being sent, in 1764, to Workum to learn Dutch, then to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, where he remained until he was 16. After returning to Norwich he learned his trade in silks and calicoes. In May 1773, he married Mary Clarke and set up business as a general merchant. His business failed and he went to Sustead, Norfolk, where his sister lived. He spent his time there as a country gentleman, studying gardening and botany at the urging of friends. After accompanying the Chief Secretary of the Lord Lieutenant around Ireland in 1783, he moved into a cottage, now called Repton Cottage, in Romford, Essex. After returning to England he embarked on a scheme to improve the conveyance of mail with John Palmer, but this also failed, forcing Repton to pursue new ventures to increase his income. In 1778, Repton declared that he would become a 'Landscape-gardener'. During his years at such work, he developed from the formal style of Lancelot Brown to a more natural and varied style, combining "artistical knowledge with good style and good taste." After his work at Cobham, Kent, in 1790, he was employed by many noblemen to work on their estates. In 1811, Repton suffered an accident while returning from a ball which damaged his spine, rendering him incapable of further work. He died in 1818, and was buried at Aylsham Church.

From the guide to the Papers and works of Humphry Repton, 1752-1818, 1793-1814, (University of Bristol Special Collections)

Landscape gardener.

From the description of Beau-Desert in Staffordshire : a seat of the Earl of Uxbridge & c & c & c, 1814 / by H. Repton. (Princeton University Library). WorldCat record id: 77949093

British landscape gardener, architect, and author.

From the description of Papers of Humphry Repton, 1746-1818. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 122499635

English landscape designer, architect and author.

From the description of A few hints concerning landscape sketches, 1811. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 77974170

From the description of Report concerning the gardens at Ashridge, respectfully submitted to the Earl of Bridgewater..., 1813. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82778007

From the description of Architectural designs for Harlestone Park, Northampton, by H. and J.A. Repton, 1808-1811. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 80500186

James Whatman (1741-1798) of Maidstone, Kent, purchased the 84-acre estate of Vinters in 1783, and after extensive improvements to the house and park, moved there in 1787. Like his father, James Whatman the elder (1702-1759), Whatman was one of the most important paper makers in Britain. Their primary paper operations were located at Turkey Mill, on the River Len, just south of the Vinters estate. The Whatman paper business was very sucessful thanks to the high quality of its paper production and innovations such as wove paper (introduced in 1757) and "antiquarian" paper (in 1773), all of which made Whatman papers highly desired by printers and by artists, in Britain and on the continent.

By 1797, Humphry Repton (1752-1818) had established himself as a leading landscape gardner in England. His designs for park improvements took the consistent form of a "Red Book", an oblong quarto report bound in red morocco showing his proposals with maps, watercolor views, and an elegantly copied text. The text commonly consisted of descriptions of the character and situation of an estate, followed by Repton's suggested improvements, with full-page watercolor drawings interspersed to elucidate his ideas.

A signature feature of Repton's Red Book illustrations was the use of overlays to demonstrate before and after views. The overlay worked by means of a hinged flap of paper affixed at the edge of a landscape view. On the top side of the flap was painted a problematic portion of the client's property; with the flap in the down position thus, the page illustrated the view as it currently existed. When the flap was lifted up and to the side, the same landscape with Repton's improvements was revealed.

A Repton Red Book design typically summarized conclusions reached by Repton and his client during his visits to the client's estate. The completed Red Book served various functions. Some property owners certainly used Repton's designs to refashion their estates. Other clients had no intention of carrying out the improvements; for them, a Red Book might be used simply as a handsome album of views, to show off to family, friends, and visitors. A full study of Repton's Red Books is available in André Rogger's Landscapes of taste: the art of Humphry Repton's Red Books (London, New York: Routledge, 2007). Rogger estimates that Repton completed between 200 and 220 Red Books, the earliest in 1789. Of the 123 documented copies in Rogger's census, the present manuscript is no. 74.

In May 1797, James Whatman employed Humphry Repton to redesign the park at Vinters, for which he paid Repton 50 guineas. The Vinters Red Book was to be added to Whatman's growing library of views of Kent, the most important of which was Paul Sandby's A View of Vinters at Boxley, Kent, with Mr. Whatman's Turkey Paper Mills, 1794 (now in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art, Prints and Drawings: B2002.29). Additional views commissioned by Whatman included two separate watercolors of Vinters and Turkey Mill by William Jefferys, 1797, and three views, including one of Vinters, by John George Wood, which were engraved and published in 1800 in Wood's Views in Kent (Abbey, Scenery 173). Whatman died before the improvements suggested by Repton could be carried out.

From the description of Vinters in Kent, a seat of James Whatman Esqr., 1797. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702201303

Biographical/Historical Note

English author and landscape designer, Repton is sometimes called the sucessor to the landscape designer Lancelot “Capability” Brown, though Repton was never as financially successful.

Initially untrained in architecture, landscape design, or gardening when he began his career, Repton used his drawing skills to obtain clients. Unlike other landscape designers, Repton left the exectution of his designs to others. He produced books for his clients that showed before and after views to help them visualize his designs. Usually in red bindings, these design proposals became known as Repton's “Red Books” and perhaps were the foundation of the books he published, Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening (1795) Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1803), and Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1816). An example of a Red Book can be found in this collection.

Repton worked with his sons, the architect John Adey Repton and George Repton. The Reptons practiced together and separately with the architect John Nash prior to 1800.

From the guide to the Humphry Repton architectural and landscape designs, 1807-1813, (Getty Research Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Humphry Repton architecture and landscape designs, 1807-1813. Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Mosely [sic] Hall near Birmingham, a seat of John Taylor, Esqr. Harvard University, Frances Loeb Library
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Report concerning the gardens at Ashridge, respectfully submitted to the Earl of Bridgewater..., 1813. J. Paul Getty Center, Arts Archives
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Repton's redbook of Shrublands Dumbarton Oaks Research Library
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. The fort near Bristol : [Essex], 1801. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Papers and works of Humphry Repton, 1752-1818, 1793-1814 University of Bristol Special Collections
creatorOf Humphry Repton architectural and landscape designs, 1807-1813 Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. A few hints concerning landscape sketches, 1811. J. Paul Getty Center, Arts Archives
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Autograph letter signed : Harestreet near Romford, to Charles Smith, 1808 Jan. 31. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Hanslope Park in Buckinghamshire, a seat of Edward Watts, Esq. (designs), 1791-1792. Boston Athenaeum
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Plans, hints and sketches for making pleasure-ground on the banks of the lake at Holkham..., [1789?]. Winterthur Library
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Hints, plans, and sketches for the improvement of Stonelands in Sussex : [Essex], 1805-1806. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Report concerning the improvement of Norman Court in Hampshire, a seat of Charles Wall Esqr. [manuscript] 1807. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Autobiographical letter, 1812 May 1. J. Paul Getty Center, Arts Archives
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Culford in Suffolk : a seat of the Right Hon'ble. Earl Cornwallis. Morton Arboretum, Sterling Morton Library
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Autograph letter signed : Stonelands Park [E. Sussex], to Lord Sheffield, 1805 Dec. 22. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Papers and works of Humphry Repton, 1752-1818, 1793-1814 University of Bristol Special Collections
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Witton in Norfolk : holograph ms. / H[umphry] Repton. University of Florida
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company contracts, 1831-1979 (inclusive) 1880-1940 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. The fort near Bristol : [Essex], 1801. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Humphry Repton : vertical file. Centre canadien d'architecture, | Canadian Centre for Architecture | CCA
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Vinters in Kent, a seat of James Whatman Esqr., 1797. Yale University, Yale Center for British Art
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Architectural designs for Harlestone Park, Northampton, by H. and J.A. Repton, 1808-1811. J. Paul Getty Center, Arts Archives
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Beau-Desert in Staffordshire : a seat of the Earl of Uxbridge & c & c & c, 1814 / by H. Repton. Princeton University Library
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Redbook Brandsbury at Willesden, Middlesex, Hare Street, Essex. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Papers of Humphry Repton, 1746-1818. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Hints, plans, and sketches for the improvement of Stonelands in Sussex : [Essex], 1805-1806. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Andrew, Robert. person
associatedWith Anglesey, Henry William Paget, Marquis of, 1768-1854, person
associatedWith Brandsbury (Brent, London, England) corporateBody
associatedWith Bridgewater, Francis Henry Egerton, Earl of, 1756-1829. person
associatedWith Cornwallis, James Cornwallis, Earl, 1743-1824 person
associatedWith Dilworth, J. Richardson, person
associatedWith Holkham Hall. corporateBody
associatedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Leicester, Earls of. Library (Holkham Hall) corporateBody
associatedWith Manwaring, Elizabeth Wheeler, 1879- person
associatedWith Medland, Thomas, 18th/19th cent, person
associatedWith Nicholls Norton c 1742-1809 person
associatedWith Repton family. family
associatedWith Repton, George Stanley. person
associatedWith Repton, Humphry person
associatedWith Repton, J. Adey (John Adey), 1775-1860. person
associatedWith Sheffield, John Holroyd, Earl of, 1735-1821, person
associatedWith Small, John, Mrs., person
associatedWith Smith, Charles, 1757-1814, person
associatedWith Stonelands (Estate). corporateBody
associatedWith Stonelands (Estate). corporateBody
associatedWith Suttons, Stapleford Tawney, Essex. person
associatedWith Taylor, Robert H., person
associatedWith Torbron, Steward person
associatedWith Torbron, Steward. person
associatedWith Tyndall, Thomas. person
associatedWith Vinters (Maidstone, Kent) corporateBody
associatedWith Wall, Charles, fl. 1897. person
associatedWith Wall, C. J. person
associatedWith Whatman, James, 1741-1798. person
associatedWith Wilkins, William, 1751-1815. person
associatedWith Woodhouse, Colonel person
Place Name Admin Code Country
England
Great Britain
England
Norfolk (England)
England--Suffolk
Abbots Leigh (England)
Culford (England)
Maidstone (England)
England--Hampshire
Witton (England)
Great Britain
Great Britain
England
England--Norfolk
Great Britain
Great Britain
England
England
Brandsbury (Brent, London, England)
Subject
Manors
Moseley Hall (Worcestershire)
Gardens--Design
Landscape architecture England History 19th century
Landscape gardening--Great Britain--18th century
Landscape drawing, English--19th century
Chron--1797
Landscape architecture--Early works to 1800
Architecture, Domestic--Designs and plans
Stables
Landscape drawing--Great Britain
Gardens, English
Landscape architecture
Landscape gardening
Great Britain--History--19th century--Sources
Architectural Drawings
Architecture--History--19th century
Landscape drawing
Landscape in art
Gardens in art
Landscape design--Great Britain
Landscape design
Country homes
Landscape architecture England History 18th century
Architecture--Great Britain--19th century
Architecture
Occupation
Artists
Function

Person

Birth 1752-04-21

Death 1818-03-24

Britons

English

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