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  • image SM Adam volume 28/22

Reference number

SM Adam volume 28/22


[21] Design for the auditorium, with a view towards the boxes, c1789, unexecuted


Axial section of the opera house with a view towards the auditorium. The pit is shown to have raked seating, and there are vaulted rooms below. There are three tiers of boxes, surmounted by two tiers containing gallery seating, and these are flanked by passageways. The ceiling is coved, with a small shallow dome, and this is all beneath a pitched roof. To the west there is a wing with a pitched roof, and a double-height ground-storey arcade. Above this there are single-storey rooms, and a three-storey room with a domed ceiling. To the east of the auditorium there is the tavern parlour, with a central chimneypiece, surmounted by a mirror frame and set within a niche. The chimneypiece is flanked by Corinthian pilasters, ornamented with scrolled hearts. All this is set behind a screen articulated by Corinthian columns which frames a semi-circular compartment above. All this is surmounted by a domed ceiling ornamented with cameos, set within fans, alternating with urns, and above this there are figurative panels. Above this there is a stepped dome, with stepped access linking to the auditorium galleries. Beyond the parlour there is a detail of the east front, with a rusticated arcade at ground floor, surmounted by a balustraded Corinthian portico. In the bottom right-hand corner there is a faint preliminary design (pencil)


bar scale of 1 inch to 5 feet


Section of the Opera House / View from the Stage towards the Boxes (in the hand of William Adam, underwritten in pencil)

Signed and dated

  • c1789

Medium and dimensions

Pen, pencil, wash and coloured washes including Naples yellow, Indian yellow, pink and verdigris on laid paper (897 x 529)


Office hand, possibly Robert Morison or Daniel Robertson, with title inscription in the hand of William Adam




Bolton, 1922, Volume II, Index p. 40
Sheppard, 1960, Volume XXIX, (i), p. 249
For a full list of literature references see scheme notes.



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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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