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Preliminary design for hanging lanterns for the staircase, c1768-79, executed with alterations (1)


When Adam was commissioned to design a new ceiling for the great staircase in 1768 - to accommodate Rubens' Glorification of the Duke of Buckingham - new ironwork balusters and three hanging lanterns were also installed.

The stone staircase is set within a stucco-decorated well, extending from the ground storey, through the principal storey, and beyond to the bedchamber storey. The baluster is painted light blue and ornamented with anthemia motifs, and was made by Thomas Tilson. Adam's drawing for the baluster does not survive, but Harris has suggested that it is contemporary with Adam's identical baluster at Kenwood, made in 1769. The handrail is mahogany, and carved along the side with Vitruvian scroll to match the walls and ceiling.

There is also a set of two pedestals supporting lamps - one in the staircase, and the other in the north passage - which are attributed to Adam on stylistic grounds, but for which there are no surviving drawings.

In c1765-66, the landings of the stairwell were screened on the principal storey with Corinthian columns, and on the bedchamber storey with Ionic columns. Adam's three lanterns hang between the Corinthian columns on the principal storey, and they survive in situ.

The executed lanterns differ from Adam's drawing in their ornamentation, for example, the executed lanterns do not include ram heads. They are thought to have been executed by Matthew Boulton, at his Soho factory in Birmingham in 1772. Boulton was the leading English maker of high quality decorative metalwork at the time.

The design for these lanterns is included in a plate in The Works of Robert and James Adam, Volume III, plate ix, albeit mislabelled for Syon.



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Contents of Preliminary design for hanging lanterns for the staircase, c1768-79, executed with alterations (1)