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image Adam vol.7/77

Reference number

Adam vol.7/77

Purpose

London: Parliament House (designs for). Unfinished design for the elevation of the lower part of a portico, showing a staircase rising against a basement in two flights and the bases of seven columns. In the centre the basement has three bays with round-headed arches.

Aspect

Elevation

Signed and dated

Undated, probably 1762-63

Medium and dimensions

Pen, pencil 130 x 314

Hand

James Adam, Office of

Watermark

Fleur de lys in double circle

Notes

This part-elevation is taken from the plan in Adam vol.7/78, for which the guidelines are apparent. It may also be related to the part-elevation on the verso of Adam vol.7/76 and to a pen sketch in Adam vol.7/202. They are all designs for the entrance portico of James Adam's Parliament House scheme and can be traced back to the elevation in Adam vol.7/4 that probably dates from late 1760, and to the later elevation in Adam vol.28/2 and 1/28 both by Robert Adam. The portico shown most closely matches that found in the latter drawing 1/28, which is possibly dated c.1768 and probably derived from James Adam's Parliament House drawings while in Rome in 1762/63 (see A. A. Tait, Robert Adam: drawings and imagination, Cambridge, 1993, pp.55-66). The plan was still 'improving' in 1763, no doubt encouraged by the arrival in 1762 of the Office of Works memorandum giving details of the existing buildings (see Adam vol.7/110). James Adam had written to his sister in London explaining, 'Now that my own plan is made out my curiosity to see the old is greater than ever' (Tait, op. cit., p.63). Nothing appears to survive to match this plan unless it is the two sketches of 1760 and references to the decoration of great and circular halls (see Adam vol.7/60).

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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