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Record drawing for a ceiling for the library, 1766, as executed, but to a different colour scheme (1)


The library is located on the principal storey of the house in the north range, between the breakfast room to the east, and the great staircase to the west.

The use of this room prior to Adam's works is unknown. It was transformed into a library in order to replace Francis Child's library in the demolished east range - a necessary task as in 1756 Francis Child had purchased the library of a renowned book collector, the Hon. Bryan Fairfax, for £2,000.

The ceiling was executed in accordance with Adam's design, but it was painted white, rather than following the colour scheme of this alternative design. It survives in situ, but during the nineteenth century this ceiling was painted light green, its white scheme being reinstated during the tenure of the V&A Museum.

There are two complete Adam office copies of this drawing within the National Trust drawings collection at Osterley. One is colour-washed, and the other shows the executed white scheme, and is grey-washed. There is also an Adam office set of laid-out wall elevations for this room at Osterley, showing a scheme of inbuilt Ionic bookcases, as executed by John Gilbert, but with an alternative frieze which was not executed. The room is decorated with ten paintings above the bookcases by Antonio Zucchi, and an overmantel painting which has been attributed to Giovanni Battista Cipriani.

Harris has noted that unlike other contemporary libraries, this room was not used as a family reception room, and instead the gallery fulfilled this function at Osterley.



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).  

Contents of Record drawing for a ceiling for the library, 1766, as executed, but to a different colour scheme (1)