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Design for the interior decoration of the great drawing room, 1768, as executed with alterations (1)

Notes

The design is as executed, except that the oval mirrors shown in detail were rejected in favour of large rectangular ones (shown in Adam volume 20/69), and the chimneypiece design was superfluous as one had already been acquired.

The Spalatro order around the room is Adam's signature use of the little-known design of the pilasters in the corner of the peristyle in Diocletian's Palace in Split. For Stillman it marks an important stage in Adam's decorative work: the doorway (and by extension the windows and fireplace which are articulated in the same way) 'illustrates the subordination of the orders to the decorative significance of the whole design. Instead of using half-columns or even fluted pilasters, Adam has abandoned the conventional use of the classical orders for a display of delicate Neo-classical decoration'.

Large square paintings were intended to decorate the wall facing the window, and Therese Parker asked by letter for Lord Grantham to look out for 'two good landscapes' in Madrid in April 1772. The search was abandoned and two of Adam's mirrors were moved across the room instead.

There is a finished version of this drawing on display at Saltram, showing the oval mirror design in all four piers.

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

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

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.

Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).