Matthew Brettingham the Elder (1699–1769) came from a Norfolk family of builders and surveyors. From 1734 he was employed by the Earl of Leicester as Clerk of the Works to supervise the building of Holkham Hall, Norfolk, to the designs of William Kent. According to his son Matthew, he regarded it as 'the great work of his life' and he tried to take the credit for the whole building when he published in 1761 'The Plans Elevations and Sections of Holkham in Norfolk, the Seat of the Earl of Leicester'. Giving his own name as architect, he omitted to mention Kent at all. In this portrait he holds a drawing of Kent's Triumphal Arch at Holkham as if it were his own. His practice spread somewhat outside Norfolk but he was never more than an orthodox and unenterprising Palladian.
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RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections
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