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Mr Henderson: designs for an unknown house, 1770-77 (3)

Signed and dated

  • 1770-77


Mr Henderson is unknown, and moreover, the location of this house is unknown. It appears that these designs proposed alterations to an older house as, unusually, the points of the compass are given, and there are pencil inscriptions listing necessary alterations. However, these designs are not known to have been executed.

There is one anomaly associated with these drawings. The elevation (Adam volume 42/34) is signed and dated Adelphi / Janry 24t. 1777, while the principal (ground) storey plan (Adam volume 42/35) is dated on the verso 1770. This disparity of dates is further confused by the fact that the Adam brothers did not move their architectural office from Lower Grosvenor Street to the Adelphi until 1772, so if the date of 1770 is correct, the drawings cannot have been made at the Adelphi. There are two possible explanations for this. First, it is possible that the date of 1770 is incorrect. Second, it is possible that the patron first commissioned the Adam brothers to make designs in 1770, and there was then a pause before further drawings were provided. This second explanation is corroborated by the fact that the plan does correspond exactly with the elevation, as one shows a Venetian window on the ground storey of the left-hand wing, while the other shows a bow, and the right-hand wing is not shown on the first-storey plan. At present it is not possible to offer a satisfactory answer to this problem.

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 55, 74; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, p. 121

Frances Sands, 2015



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

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Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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Contents of Mr Henderson: designs for an unknown house, 1770-77 (3)