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Record drawing for a ceiling for the new hall in the west range, 1767, executed with minor alterations (1)

Notes

The hall is located on the principal storey of the house at the centre of the principal (east) front of the west range, between the two projecting wings, with the eating room to the north, the gallery to the west, and the drawing room to the south.

This room was created to replace the original entrance hall in the demolished east range. According to Harris, the room was a difficult shape for Adam to work with, being too long and low, and he offset this by installing an apse at each end to reduce the length of the room, resulting in a better proportion for the ceiling height. Harris has noted that Adam further compensated for the low ceiling by using a narrow strip of Greek key fret rather than a full frieze.

There is a variant Adam office copy of this design for the ceiling within the National Trust drawings collection at Osterley which may predate this drawing. Here, as executed in a white and French grey colour scheme, the rinceaux replace trophy panels from the Osterley drawing, but there are paterae in the Osterley drawing - not shown here - which are as executed. The ceiling survives in situ.

There is no extant drawing for the pavement in the hall, but it is thought to have been designed by Adam as it echoes the geometry of the ceiling.

There is also an Adam office set of laid-out wall elevations for this room within the National Trust drawings collection at Osterley. These show arabesque wall panels in place of Joseph Rose's executed trophy panels, which are similar to those in the ante room at Syon. All of these trophy panels are based on the 'Trophies of Marius', 1st century BC carvings of trophies of arms from the palaces of Marius and Octavianus Augustus in the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome. Piranesi had engraved these Roman trophy panels in his Trofei Di Ottaviano Augusto (1753), a copy of which was in Adam's possession, but Adam had also seen them in Rome, and owned large drawings of them (SM Adam volumes 26/88-92), attributed to his draughtsman Antonio Zucchi.

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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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