The Repton Gazette and Brown Advisor

300 Frequently Asked Questions about Capability Brown, and a further 200 about Humphry Repton

Tag: Versailles

299: What is Brown’s legacy?

Recently returned from his tour to the eastern states, Captain Ken has reported his astonishment that Americans could describe the architecture and layout of New York as beautiful, and his further astonishment at the praise they heaped on the scenery along the train line from New York to Philadelphia.

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286: Is Brown a classic?

Much as moulds will effloresce upon a ground bedewed and pooled with rain, so a year made florid by the celebration of the tercentenary of that master of illusion, Capability Brown, will bring us thistles as well as roses.

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281: Was Brown asking for trouble?

Mr Honey comes in spinning like a top – I have seldom seen such irritability in a man – and flings onto our table first one issue then another then another of The Spectator – a journal with which I feel myself to be closely associated. Indeed it is one in which I take a nigh-on paternal interest.  Each of these issues has within it another attack on the landscapes of Capability Brown.

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204: Why not celebrate the human?

My good friends Captain Ken and Mr Honey profess themselves both keen fishermen, yet their ways of proceeding could not be more distinct. The Captain will cast his fly, chin-proudly forward, gazing across the water, immobile as a heron. Mr H will snooze until he spies a craft of women punting by, then he will thrash the water with his line, with much cursing and joshing, then will he heave mightily in the waters. Now that’s real fishing he will say, a-twirling of his fine moustache.

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230: What did other people think about cascades?

I draw this short account of cascades to a close with one note by Stephen Switzer, who brought to England the skills, honed at Versailles, which Brown inevitably adopted, and another by Brown’s great rival, Sir William Chambers.

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224: What do you know about Brown’s cascades?

The estimable Mr L of the Barbican, London, writes in search of some understanding of the different types of cascade used by everybody’s idea of the perfect place-maker, Capability Brown, in the course of his career.

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87: Where did he get it from? – André le Nôtre

There is something comforting in the resilience of nationalism.

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6: Did Brown travel abroad?

The domed octagon of the menagerie at Coombe resembles the Great Menagerie at Versailles

The domed octagon of the menagerie at Coombe resembles the Great Menagerie at Versailles

A correspondent, purporting to be Señor J.M.P-G. d’A  de P. y A., president of the bull-fighting appreciation society of Seville, has written to let me know that Capability Brown is still remembered in that city as a fighter – a great toreador, celebrated for the flourish with which he executed his Veronicas, and that it was through his cape ability that he acquired his nick-name.

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The Brown Advisor©2015

By John Phibbs