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Record drawing for a ceiling for the drawing room (later the tapestry room), 1767, as executed (1)

Notes

The drawing room (later the tapestry room) remained a shell on Robert Adam’s employment at Nostell in 1765. It was designated as a drawing room by Adam in the 1770s, producing unexecuted designs for the walls, as well as executed designs for the ceiling and chimneypiece. These drawings were sent to Nostell in April 1767. Further drawings were sent to Nostell by James Adam in October 1767. The walls of the room remained unfinished in 1818, being described in an inventory of that year as the ‘unfinished drawing room’. The walls were finally clad when Charles Winn purchased a set of four 1750 Brussels tapestries by Pierre Van Der Borcht, depicting the Continents. These were purchased in 1818 and hung in 1822-24, allowing the room to be used as a formal drawing room for occasional use. One of the tapestries – depicting Europe – was lost to fire in 1920.

The ceiling for the drawing room was executed by Joseph Rose (junior) in 1766-67 at a cost of £87.3s.2¼d. Overdoor medallions, pilasters for the walls and lunette-shaped panels for the ceiling were painted by Antonio Zucchi, and delivered by the artist personally in September 1774. The ceiling and its lunette-shaped Zucchi panels – depicting Cupid and Psyche in the centre, encircled by the Liberal Arts – survive in situ, but on the arrival of the tapestries, Zucchi’s painted pilasters were removed and lost, and the overdoor medallions were placed in the breakfast room and then lost to a fire in that room in 1980.

There are other Adam office drawings for the drawing room within the National Trust drawings collection. These comprise an unexecuted preliminary design for laid out wall elevations datable to 1767; an unexecuted alternative design for the ceiling which is also datable to 1767; and a selection of Antonio Zucchi’s cartoons for some of his panels in the room.

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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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