Humphry Repton is celebrated as one of the most pioneering and influential landscape designers of the late-18th and early-19th centuries.

Among his achievements is his development of a theatrical form of watercolour sketch in which a flap showing the ‘before’ view of a landscape is pulled back to reveal the ‘after’ effect of his scheme. These designs were produced on loose folios or bound into the famous Red Books which Repton produced for his society clients.

North-east view of Norman Court is a fine example of one of these unique watercolours. The ‘before’ scene shows the existing redbrick house, together with its stables and coach house. In the foreground a man is seen chopping trees with an axe while a couple walk across the park.

When the flap on the sketch is lifted, Repton’s scheme for the remodelling of the house and landscape is revealed. An elegant new house of classical design is shown, together with figures strolling along a sweeping driveway through the park.

Repton’s client for Norman Court died in 1815 and his plans were never realised. However, this watercolour remains an important example of his later designs. It now becomes the first work by Repton to join the permanent collection at the Garden Museum, alongside the long-term loan of his Red Book for the Sundridge Estate.

Provenance

The work has been passed down the family of Charles Wall since Repton created it from him in the early 1800s. As described on the Bonhams website: “Charles Wall (1756-1815) who married Harriet Baring in 1790, Their son Charles Baring Wall (1795-1853




Exhibitions at Garden Museum

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