Vinters in Kent, a seat of James Whatman Esqr., 1797.


Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818. Vinters in Kent, a seat of James Whatman Esqr., 1797.

Vinters in Kent, a seat of James Whatman Esqr., 1797.

Manuscript Red Book by Humphry Repton, comprising his recommendations for improvements to the grounds of Vinters, near Maidstone (seat of James Whatman), with Repton's seven watercolor views and map of the grounds. The map and views are on wove paper (without watermarks), affixed to stubs bound in. All leaves integral to the volume, including those bearing text, are on antique laid paper bearing the countermark of James Whatman and dated 1794. In form and content, the present Red Book for Vinters conforms to the standardized format Repton had established by 1790, which is well described by Rogger (pp. 66-73). The title page and nine leaves of neatly copied manuscript text are written in pen and brown ink, on rectos only of each leaf. With the exception of Repton's signature at the foot of the Introduction, text is copied in a neat copperplate hand by a proffesional clerk (Rogger, p. 69). Text is framed within a border of three simple lines, in pen and blue ink. The introduction takes the form of a letter to James Whatman; Repton notes: "I have therefore digested on paper the several remarks I had the honour to make on the subject in conversation ... My opinion thus delivered becomes the sketch of a great plan to be filled up at leisure, and the blank leaves at the end of the book will serve to contain a record of the dates when each part is carried into execution." Next to Repton's signature are the notes "First visit on the spot, March, 1797. Plans sent ... May 15, 1797". The report begins with a watercolor map and one page of text on the "Character and Situation" of Vinters, in which Repton sets down one of his principles of landscape design: "I have ever found that in proportion as a place affects to be a farm, it loses much of its pretensions to the elegance, the beauty, the magnificence, or even the neatness and convenience of a gentleman's residence ... [this notion is] peculiarly applicable to the situation and character of Vinters ... in the midst of a populous neighbourhood, the valley near the house is sequestered and private even to a degree of romance ... ". In the following "Digression" (2 leaves), Repton explains his preference for lawn (or pasture) over arable land. He praises the "permanent verdure" of pasture, in which animals and man alike enjoy rest, pleasure, and happiness, compared to the "changeable cloathing" of arable land, which is blighted by the "naked and comfortless appearance of its fallow state"; furthermore, "labour and hardship attend the operations of agriculture, whether cattle are tearing up the surface of the soil, or man reaping its produce". Two of Repton's primary objectives at Vinters are thus to "shut out all appearance of arable land contiguous to the dwelling" together with "the removal or concealment of fences and boundaries". Repton's third major focus is the improvement of the meandering green dale which is "doubtless the most singular and most pleasing feature in the grounds at Vinters". Here, Repton argues that the beauty of the sloping banks could be enhanced by the removal of excess trees and brush at select spots along the valley. A watercolor illustration of this improvement shows a bright denuded hillside populated by a grazing flock of sheep. The central valley could also be improved, Repton argues, by the introduction of "a large handsome irregular shaped pool" and the enlargement of an existing pond. Much of the pool would not be visible from the house, "yet its effect ... will enliven the scene, and serve to draw attention to the scenery near home". The views, measuring 132 x 227 mm, are full watercolors over graphite. They are bordered within double frames of yellow and gray wash. All the views are numbered, to facilitate references to them within the text. The map of the estate, measuring 211 x 416 mm, is drawn across a folded double leaf, in pen and black ink, with watercolors. Primary design features on the map are keyed with letters to facilitate references. An engraved trade card for "H. Repton, Landscape Gardener, Hare Street near Romford, Essex" is pasted to the first free endpaper. It is entirely illustrated, drawn by Repton and engraved by Thomas Medland. The illustration depicts Repton surveying a riverside estate (with theodolite at hand) while a dozen laborers toil the earth in the background. Affixed to a blank leaf at the end of the volume is a view, in watercolor over pen and ink, titled "Vinter's in 1783, before the alterations". The view is in a different hand and almost certainly predates Repton's production of the present Red Book.

1 v. ([20] leaves) : ill. ; 22 x 30 cm.

Related Constellations

There are 4 Constellations related to this resource.

Medland, Thomas, active 18th century-19th century (person)

Vinters (Maidstone, Kent) (corporateBody)

Whatman, James, 1741-1798 (person)

Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818 (person)

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. ...