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Thursday, 27 June 2019

Adam Style and the work of Robert Adam

Saloon, Saltram © A Knowles 2014
Saloon, Saltram © A Knowles 2014
Robert Adam (1728-1792) was an influential Neoclassical architect. Having trained under his father William, the leading Scottish architect of his time, and been in partnership with his elder brother John, Robert established his own architectural practice in London after coming back from his Grand Tour in 1757. He took his younger brother James (1732-1794) into partnership with him in 1763.

You can read more about the life of Robert Adam here.

Wedgwood cameo of Robert Adam, modelled by Tassie  from The Architecture of Robert and James Adam   by AT Bolton (1922)
Wedgwood cameo of Robert Adam, modelled by Tassie
from The Architecture of Robert and James Adam
by AT Bolton (1922)
Robert Adam and his brother worked on hundreds of projects. In the collection of their drawings in the Sir John Soane’s Museum, there are over 8,000 sketches and plans relating to more than 350 patrons. Not all these designs were executed, and not all those that were carried out remain, but many can still be seen today.

I have included my photographs where possible. The other pictures are not current and include some of Adam's work that has been altered or demolished. Some titles are clickable links to blog posts I have written on specific places.

The Adam Style

A key element of Adam’s style was his coordinated approach to design. The decorations on the ceilings and walls were intended to harmonise with the designs of the fireplaces, carpets, furniture and fittings of the room. 

His distinctive style was light and fanciful and used the repetition of simple, small-scale Neoclassical ornament inspired by the decorations used in Ancient Greece and Rome.

Ceiling of the Entrance Hall, Kenwood © R Knowles 2019
Ceiling of the Entrance Hall, Kenwood
© R Knowles 2019
Major work in the country included:

Bowood, Wiltshire (1761-71)1

Entrance Hall, Bowood House  from The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
Entrance Hall, Bowood House
from The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
The Great Drawing Room now the Dining Room,  Bowood House from The Architecture of   Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
The Great Drawing Room now the Dining Room,
Bowood House from The Architecture of 
Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
Compton Verney, Warwickshire (1760-3)

The Portico, Compton Verney, by Robert Adam, 1760  (The back wall has been altered by J Gibson, 1855)  from The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
The Portico, Compton Verney, by Robert Adam, 1760
(The back wall has been altered by J Gibson, 1855)
from The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
 Croome Court, Worcestershire (1759-65)

The Long Gallery, Croome Court  from The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
The Long Gallery, Croome Court
from The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
Harewood, Yorkshire (1759-68)

Entrance Hall, Harewood House, from    The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
Entrance Hall, Harewood House, from The Architecture
of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
Hatchlands, Surrey (1758-61)

The Saloon (originally the Dining Room), Hatchlands Park,   from The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
The Saloon (originally the Dining Room), Hatchlands Park,
from The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
Kedleston, Derbyshire (1760-70)

The Marble Hall, Kedleston © A Knowles 2016
The Marble Hall, Kedleston © A Knowles 2016
Kenwood, Middlesex (1767-8)

The Library, Kenwood © R Knowles 2019
The Library, Kenwood © R Knowles 2019
Luton Park House (Luton Hoo), Bedfordshire (1767-74) - redesigned by Robert Smirke c1830
Mamhead, Devon (1769-74) - rebuilt
Mistley Hall, Essex (1774-76 and 1782) - demolished
Moreton Hall, Bury St Edmunds (1773)
Newby Hall, Yorkshire (1772-80)

Nostell, Yorkshire (1766-76)

Top Hall, Nostell Priory © A Knowles 2014
Top Hall, Nostell Priory © A Knowles 2014
The State Dressing Room, Nostell Priory  - redecorated by Adam and Chippendale (1769-71) © A Knowles 2014
The State Dressing Room, Nostell Priory
- redecorated by Adam and Chippendale (1769-71) © A Knowles 2014
Oaks, The, Surrey – left unfinished (1777-8) - demolished

Osterley, Middlesex (1761-79)

Entrance Hall, Osterley © A Knowles 2014
Entrance Hall, Osterley © A Knowles 2014
Ceiling in outside courtyard at Osterley © A Knowles 2014
Ceiling in outside courtyard at Osterley © A Knowles 2014
Pulteney Bridge, Bath (1770-4)

Pulteney Bridge, Bath © A Knowles 2012
Pulteney Bridge, Bath © A Knowles 2012
Saltram, Devon (1768)

Dining Room ceiling, Saltram © A Knowles 2014
Dining Room ceiling, Saltram © A Knowles 2014
Dining Room, Saltram © A Knowles 2014
Dining Room, Saltram © A Knowles 2014
Shardeloes, Buckinghamshire (1759-63) - converted into flats

South East front of Shardeloes from    The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
South East front of Shardeloes from  
The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
The Entrance Portico, Shardeloes   from The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
The Entrance Portico, Shardeloes
from The Architecture of Robert and
James Adam
by AT Bolton (1922)
The Library, Shardeloes from The Architecture   of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
The Library, Shardeloes from The Architecture
 of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
Stowe, Buckinghamshire – south front (1770-1) - modified

Stowe © A Flynn (2019)
Stowe © A Flynn (2019)
Syon, Middlesex (1762-8)

Dining Room, Syon House © R Knowles (2018)
Dining Room, Syon House © R Knowles (2018)
The Great Hall, Syon House © A Knowles
The Great Hall, Syon House © A Knowles
Witham Park, Somersetshire (1762-3) - demolished

Other Adam work that I've come across:

Adam fireplace at Strawberry Hill

Robert Adam fireplace in Round Room  Strawberry Hill © A Knowles 2014
Robert Adam fireplace in Round Room, Strawberry Hill
© A Knowles 2014
Detail of Robert Adam fireplace in Round Room, Strawberry Hill   © A Knowles 2014
Detail of Robert Adam fireplace in Round Room, Strawberry Hill
 © A Knowles 2014
Work in London included:

Adelphi (1768-72)

Adelphi Terrace from a print c1795 from The Architecture   of  Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
Adelphi Terrace from a print c1795 from The Architecture
 of  Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
Admiralty Screen, Whitehall (1759-60)

View of the Admiralty with the new screen by Robert Adam (published 1775)   from The Architecture of  Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
View of the Admiralty with the new screen by Robert Adam (published 1775)
 from The Architecture of  Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
Apsley House, Piccadilly (1771-8) - altered and extended by Benjamin Wyatt c1828-30

Apsley House in 1800 from Old and New London by E Walford (1873)
Apsley House in 1800 from Old and New London by E Walford (1873)
Chandos House, Chandos Street (1771)
Derby House, Grosvenor Square (1773)
Fete pavilion of 1774 at Epsom for the Earl of Derby – temporary structure
Fitzroy Square (1790)
Home House, Portman Square (1775-7)
Lansdowne House, Berkeley Square (1762-5) (1765-8)
Mansfield Street (1770)
Office of the Paymaster General (until 1939), Whitehall (1771)
Portland Place (1773 and 1776-78)

Society of Arts (1772-4)

Royal Society of Arts, John Adam Street, London © A Knowles 2015
Royal Society of Arts, John Adam Street, London © A Knowles 2015
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (1775)

Adam's reconstruction of the Theatre Royal, Drury  Lane 1776 from The Architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
Adam's reconstruction of the Theatre Royal, Drury
Lane 1776 from The Architecture of Robert and
James Adam
by AT Bolton (1922)
Wynn House, St James’s Square (1772)

Work in Scotland included:
Culzean, Ayshire (1777-90)
Dumfries House, Dumfriesshire (1754-9) – with John Adam
Edinburgh University (1788)
Gosford House, East Lothian (1790-1800)
Glasgow Infirmary (original building) (1794)
Merchant Hall, Edinburgh (1788-90)
Mellerstain, Berwickshire (1770-8)
Newliston, Midlothian (1789-92)
Register House of Scotland, Edinburgh (1772-89)

Work in Ireland included:
Castle Upton, County Antrim (1782)
Langford House, Dublin (1765)1

Notes
1. I have used the dates in Bolton where given but I have found that they don’t always agree with other sources. Assume all dates are approximate!

Sources used include:
Adam, Robert and Adam, The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam (1773)
Bolton, Arthur T, The architecture of Robert and James Adam (1758-1794) (1922)
Swarbrick, John, Robert Adam and his brothers (1915)
Tait, AA, Adam, Robert (1728-1792), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn Oct 2009, accessed 27 Aug 2014)
The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle Volume 62 (1792)

John Soane’s Museum website

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