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image Adam vol.55/67

Reference number

Adam vol.55/67

Purpose

Capriccio showing overgrown classical ruins with two walls of a courtyard with two porticoes, one having three bays, linked by pilastered walls. The columns are fluted and without bases, with a relief panel and attic above and an open belvedere on top.

Aspect

Perspective

Inscribed

Inscribed in ink on drawing 67

Signed and dated

Undated, probably 1755 - 56

Medium and dimensions

Pen, pencil, watercolour237 x 265

Hand

Charles-Louis Clérisseau

Notes

The subtle handling of watercolour and the sophisticated use of light are more typical of Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721-1820) than Robert Adam, a superiority that Adam reluctantly accepted. He wrote in February 1755 that Clérisseau had '... the utmost knowledge of architecture, of perspective, and of designing and colouring I ever saw or had any conception of. He raised my ideas. He created emulation and fire in my breast.' (J. Fleming, Robert Adam and His Circle in Edinburgh & Rome, London, 1962, p.135). The use of partially-submerged columns can be found in Clérisseau's views of the Fora of Nerva and Augustus, Rome, which may have been derived in turn from Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78) (see T. McCormick, Charles-Louis Clérisseau and the Genesis of Neo-Classicism, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, 1990, p.10). The belvedere may be compared with similar ones in Adam's Roman views in volume 57, such as Adam vol.57/90. There are similar compositions in volume 56, and a preliminary chalk sketch in Adam vol.55/75 with the remains of perspective lines, which is probably also in Clérisseau's hand.

Level

Drawing

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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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