the picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth.") Although he came in for criticism, Gilpin had published at exactly the right time.Improved road communications and travel restrictions on continental Europe saw an explosion of British domestic tourism in the 1780s and 1790s.
Some extra help from the artist, perhaps in the form of a carefully placed tree, was usually required.
In contrast to other contemporary travel writers, such as Thomas Pennant, Gilpin included little history, and few facts or anecdotes.
Even more unusually, he expressed ideas about the perception of beauty which were purely aesthetic and often divorced from other qualities of the object viewed, such as morality or utility.
After working as curate, Gilpin became master, and from 1755 headmaster, at Cheam School.
Ultimately, these grand theories of wild natural beauty gave way to the tamer and more commercialised picturesque of the mid-19th century.
But Gilpin's works remained popular and several new editions, with additions by John Heaviside Clark, appeared.
He was succeeded at Cheam by his son, another William Gilpin.
William Gilpin died at Boldre, Hampshire, on 5 April 1804 and was buried there on 13 April.
During the late 1760s and 1770s Gilpin travelled extensively in the summer holidays and applied these principles to the landscapes he saw, committing his thoughts and spontaneous sketches to notebooks.
Gilpin's tour journals circulated in manuscript to friends, such as the poet William Mason, and a wider circle including Thomas Gray, Horace Walpole and King George III.