Sale of impressive urns after William Kent

22/03/2017     Garden Furniture & Statuary

Sale of impressive urns after William Kent


An impressive set of four 18th century carved limestone urns on pedestals, created after a design by William Kent for Lord Burlington's Chiswick House are estimated to fetch £20,000 – 40,000 in Summers Place Auctions' next sale on the 28th March 2017. With a majestic height of 274 cm (108 ins) and the urns itself a respectable 160 cm high, these four urns are certainly looking for a garden and house to match.

Chiswick House, a Palladian villa in Chiswick, West London, is arguably the finest remaining example of Neo-Palladian architecture in London. The house was designed by Lord Burlington and completed in 1729. The house and gardens mainly created by architect and landscape designer William Kent, is one of the earliest examples of the English landscape garden.

During his trip to Italy in 1719, Burlington had acquired a passion for Palladian architecture, collecting drawings by Palladio himself, which had belonged to Inigo Jones. According to the biographer Howard Colvin, "Burlington's mission was to reinstate in Augustan England the canons of Roman architecture as described by Vitruvius, exemplified by its surviving remains, and practised by Palladio, Scamozzi and Jones.

Burlington, himself a talented amateur architect and in the words of Horace Walpole "Apollo of the Arts" designed the villa with the aid of William Kent, who also took a leading role in designing the gardens.

The original set of eight urns carved in Portland stone, were placed in an avenue running from the back of the house towards the exedra, in imitation of the Appian way in Rome, which was lined with funerary urns and monuments, later immortalised in a
vedute ideate by Piranesi in 1756. Such was the popularity of the urn design, that Kent later used them in another of his gardens at Rousham, Oxfordshire, remodelled in the 1730’s.

These four urns have been on a private Sussex estate for the last 100 years. James Rylands, sculpture specialist at Summers Place Auctions, says: “This is a great opportunity to purchase some of the best urns available on the market. It becomes more and more difficult to find urns of this stature and with such great pedigree.”