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Variant preliminary design, design and finished drawing for a girandole for the gallery, 1770, executed with alterations (3)


The gallery is located on the principal storey of the house, and spans the entire garden front of the west range, being adjacent to the eating room at the northern end, the hall at the centre, and the drawing room at the southern end.

This is one of very few rooms worked on by Adam for which he designed furniture, but was otherwise uninvolved in the interior decoration. This happened elsewhere at Osterley, in the breakfast room and the yellow taffeta bedchamber. Adam did, however, remove the Venetian windows from the north and south end walls, which had only recently been installed in 1759-60 - being contemporary with Joseph Wilton's chimneypieces.

According to Harris, it was the arrival of Rubens' equestrian portrait of the Duke of Buckingham in 1767 which prompted some reworking of the room. Buckingham was a distant relative of the Child family, and his two portraits by Rubens - originally commissioned by Buckingham himself for York House - were purchased by the older Francis Child in 1697, and installed in his townhouse at 42 Lincoln's Inn Fields. When 42 Lincoln's Inn Fields was replaced by Robert Child with the more fashionable 38 Berkeley Square, Rubens' two portraits were removed to Osterley, one to the gallery, and the other to the staircase. Unfortunately, both paintings were destroyed by fire on Jersey in 1949.

Following the arrival of the painting, the gallery was repainted, and seat furniture was provided by Linnell. Adam's girandole was executed, but to a slightly alternate design, with four candle branches, and more glass, with a broader upper section, being similar in shape to an earlier design of 1768 made for the Earl of Coventry at Coventry House, Piccadilly (SM Adam volume 20/61). The girandole was executed as a set of six in bronze, gilt wood, ormolu, papier-mâché and silvered glass, probably by Linnell. The six girandoles were arranged along the ten piers of the gallery, alternating with four pier glasses which were also designed by Adam, but for which there is no surviving drawing. All ten glasses and girandoles survive in situ.



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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Contents of Variant preliminary design, design and finished drawing for a girandole for the gallery, 1770, executed with alterations (3)