Inscribed in pencil in a contemporary hand Ornaments of the palace of the/ Emperors - / Beneds Book - / painted Ornams Tivoli
Signed and dated
Undated, probably 1762-63
Medium and dimensions
Pencil, black chalk
178 x 158
James Adam, Office of
Drawing in black chalk showing two decorative details: an anthemion and a grotesque mask.
The pencil inscription probably refers to books; certainly the 'Ornaments of the palace of the Emperors' is the impending Adam volume, Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian's Palace at Spalatro of 1764. The other is possibly concerned with the decoration of Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, of which both Pier Leone Ghezzi (1674 - 1755) and Giavanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78) made surveys (see W. Macdonald and J. Pinto, Hadrian's Villa and its Legacy, New Haven and London, 1995, pp.232-5). According to John Fleming, 'Benedetto Napoletano' was probably recruited by James Adam in Naples and he may be the 'Bened's Book' of the inscription. According to Adam, his '... great delight is architecture and he already draws it well but is not yet thoroughly skilled in the figurative way and is entirely ignorant of ornament to both of which he is just now applying' (J. Fleming, Robert Adam and His Circle in Edinburgh & Rome, London, 1962, p.376).
The decorative details on the recto and verso may be related to similar, more advanced designs for the decoration of James Adam's Parliament House scheme of 1762/63 (see Adam vol.7/88 and 95).
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