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image Adam vol.7/70

Reference number

Adam vol.7/70

Purpose

London: Parliament House (designs for). Design for a baldacchino showing four columns with acanthus capitals and arabesque and sculptural decoration. The shallow dome is supported by dolphins and surmounted by a crown. At the base above six steps and on separate plinths are a lion and unicorn.

Aspect

Perspective

Scale

Pencil scale

Signed and dated

Undated, probably 1762

Medium and dimensions

Pencil, pen, grey wash 533 x 405

Hand

James Adam (attributed to)

Verso

Two unfinished pencil drawings showing perspective diagrams.

Notes

The plan for the baldacchino shown here in elevation is shown in Adam vol.7/68 and both were intended for James Adam's Parliament House scheme of 1762/63. The inspiration for his design lay in examples found in numerous Roman churches, of which the baroque baldacchino for St Peter's by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) was the most notable, and that for Santa Maria Maggiore of c.1743 by Ferdinando Fuga (1699-1782) the most contemporary. The conservative composition here makes a striking contrast with the baldacchino proposed by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) for San Giovanni in Laterano of 1763/4, which James Adam knew (see J. Wilton-Ely, Piranesi as Architect and Designer, London, 1993, p.80, pls.78-9). Adam's baldacchino sheltered a throne rather than an altar, as is shown in the pencil sketch in Adam vol.7/202 verso.

Literature

Repr. J. Fleming, Robert Adam and His Circle in Edinburgh & Rome, London, 1962, pl.91.

Level

Drawing

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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