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image Adam vol.7/170

Reference number

Adam vol.7/170

Purpose

Unfinished design for a theatre showing an elevation of thirteen bays composed as a seven-bay front with Giant Order and pediment linked to single-bay pavilions at either end. Sculptural decoration includes a quadriga and fountains.

Aspect

Elevation

Inscribed

Inscribed in ink on architrave The Theatre was Erected by the King, Peers/ & Commoners of Britain in the First Parliament; and in pencil on the pediment Britain presents her Arts/ to the King; and in pencil on the panels between the pilasters Triton/ Orpheus / Charms his beasts/ Orpheus charms Pluto/ dancing / Spring & Con/ versation of / the Muses / Comedy / Dance / of the Muses / Sacrifice of ye muses / Tragedy / Arion/ Arion & the / Dolphin/ Singing / Ampheon/ rules Thebes

Signed and dated

Undated, probably 1762/63

Medium and dimensions

Pen, pencil 231 x 656

Hand

James Adam

Notes

The first parliament of the reign of George III began in 1760 and this drawing belongs to that period, and is probably contemporary with James Adam's Parliament House scheme of 1762/63; like that scheme it may have been begun before he left London for Italy in 1760. The plan of the theatre is shown in Adam vol.7/171, which in turn is a version of the ink sketch in Adam vol.7/176. The fountains on either side of the entrance portico are derived from the design in Adam vol.7/108 and this reinforces a date of c.1762/63. One fountain is shown in greater detail in Adam vol.7/184. The façade was also to be enriched with a series of relief panels that related to the theatre, whose subjects are suggested in the pencil notes. The four niches on either side of the door were to hold the figures of Dancing, Comedy, Tragedy and Singing. There is a more detailed version of the upper windows in Adam vol.7/172 and 173.
The Adam library contained Carlo Fontana (1634/8–1714)'s compendium of seventeenth-century theatre designs that Robert Adam used for his work at Drury Lane and the Haymarket Opera House, both London.

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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