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Design for a plate warmer, c1760-62 (1)


Unlike the other drawings for metalwork, the drawings for the sauce boats, sugar shakers, handled cup and the straight-sided urn are not copies of designs by Stuart. All of Stuart's metalwork for Scarsdale is accounted for, and this does not include these designs - whether they were executed or not - and from the nature of the drawings it appears that these are preliminary designs for additional silver being made by the Adam office. This particular drawing is for a straight-sided plate warmer, which Snodin notes has strong legs to carry the weight of the plates. The drawing has the character of a design in development, being freely drawn.

During a discussion of this drawing Snodin suggested that the straight-sided top appears like a stone cinerary urn, though these do not usually have legs. The ancient model is therefore stone, and the massiveness of this design suggests the use of stone or carved wood. The high relief figures would be difficult to carry out in metal, except with cast and applied elements, as in Stuart's plate warmer. However, the handle on the top is small, suggesting the use of metal, but perhaps this is an early design, made with little thought for material.



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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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