Professor M of the Home Counties asks why the Capability Brown should be regarded as the classic landscape gardener above any of those other men who were his foremen and contemporaries. He points out that they have been much more rigorously studied – Richard Woods by Fiona Cowell, William Emes by Keith Goodway, Nathaniel Richmond by David Brown, the Whites by Deborah Turnbull.
By way of reply, Professor, I would propose that for an artist to be a ‘classic’ it is not essential that he or she be read, looked at, recognised or understood, but there should be a sense that with their coming civilisation crossed a threshold. From that threshold one might look back into the dark or forward to the light.
All these other men deserve study, but all only illustrate the greater reach of Brown and, because none of them consistently worked to his standard, his greater gift. Brown was a knight among his kinsfolk, nay, a king amongst the kettle-pans. He was sufficient to himself but necessary for the careers of these men.