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
231 x 656
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.
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