According to Horace Walpole, Kent "was a painter, an architect, and the father of modern gardening. In the first character he was below mediocrity; in the second, he was a restorer of the science; in the last, an original, and the inventor of an art that realizes painting and improves nature. Mahomet imagined an elysium, Kent created many."
A period of study in Rome led Kent to an appreciation of the architectural style of Andrea Palladio. He applied this style to many buildings in London: the Royal Mews, the Treasury, the Horse Guards building in Whitehall. With Richard Boyle, the 4th Earl of Cork, also known as Lord Burlington, he decorated Chiswick House and Burlington House.
As a landscape designer, he worked on Stowe House in Buckinghamshire. He also worked on the Gothic screens in Westminster Hall and Gloucester Cathedral, and he designed furnishings for Hampton Court Palace. The royal barge he designed for Frederick, Prince of Wales can still be seen at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
In his own age, Kent's fame and popularity were so great that he was employed to give designs for all things, even for ladies' birthday dresses, of which he could know nothing about and which he decorated with the five Classical orders of architecture. These and other absurdities drew upon him the satire of William Hogarth who, in October 1725, produced a Burlesque on Kent's Altarpiece in St. Clement Danes.