How Smith came into contact with Adam is not known, but in December 1780 designs were commissioned for a two-storey rustic thatched cottage, with lattice windows and a portico over the door supported by tree-trunk columns. Variant schemes for this cottage were made simultaneously: one scheme (Adam volumes 46/177, 179) had a 40-foot wide façade, while the other scheme (Adam volumes 46/178, 180-181) had a 50-foot wide façade. Each scheme describes alterations and additions to a much smaller building.
Four months later in April 1781, designs for a slightly larger neo-classical house were made for a Mr Smith (Adam volumes 42/102-105). Owing to the close dates, it has previously been assumed that these designs were commissioned for the same Samuel Smith. Here, the designs show a two-storey house with three relieving arches on the ground storey; the central arch containing a tripartite door supporting a fanlight, and surmounted by a tripartite window in the first storey flanked by balustraded windows.
It has previously been suggested that these two rather different designs – the rustic and neo-classical houses for patrons named Smith – are entirely separate commissions for works on separate buildings, but close observation of their plans suggest that these are alternative schemes for alterations to the same building. Each plan makes use of roughly similar proportions and footprint; each contains the same small original structure; and each includes the same rooms in the same locations: on the ground floor of each design there is a central hall and half-turn staircase, flanked by a book room, parlour/dining room, servants' hall and butler's room, and with a kitchen and service amenities in the rear wing; while on the first floor of each design there are numerous bedrooms. It is suggested here that not only was Samuel Smith the patron of both designs, but that he commissioned the rustic design, rejected it, and then soon afterwards commissioned a neo-classical alternative.
The location of this small house is not known. Samuel Smith MP was in possession of houses in the village of Cherington in Gloucestershire, and Putney (then part of Surrey), and it may have been for one of these two properties that the designs were made. However, there is no evidence to confirm this, and the designs are not thought to have been executed.
A. T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 57, 87; D. King, The complete works of Robert and James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, pp. 121, 260; Smith, Samuel (1755-93), of Cherington, Glos. And Putney Hill, Surr.’ History of Parliament online
Frances Sands, 2015
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 Samuel Smith: unexecuted designs for alterations and additions to a house, 1780-81 (11)
- Designs for a 40-foot wide rustic cottage, 1780, unexecuted (2)
- Designs for a 50-foot wide rustic cottage, 1780, unexecuted (3)
- Alternative preliminary designs, and designs for a neo-classical house, 1781, unexecuted (6)