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image SM Adam volume 20/73

Reference number

SM Adam volume 20/73


Finished drawing for a Chinoiserie mirror frame, 1769, unexecuted


Elevation of a rectangular, tripartite, Chinoiserie mirror frame, with ornament painted onto the glass, with a central oval painted with a billowing urn supported by a tapering pedestal, at the head of a staircase which is colonnaded, and covered with a barrel vault ornamented with circular panels, and this oval compartment is encircled by rinceaux containing rosettes, anthemia, and masks, and with four lozenge-shaped fans, and the outer compartments of the tripartite frame are ornamented with double calyx alternating with elliptical frame containing drops of calyx and tubular flowers, and the frame has an apron of rinceaux, rosettes, fans, festoons, and bells, and the frame is surmounted by tubular flowers forming pagodas, calyx, rinceaux, rosettes, festoons, and Chinese figures flanking an oval medallion containing a pergola, and this is surmounted by a tubular flower, and anthemion


bar scale of 1 1/2 inches to 1 foot

Signed and dated

  • February 1769
    Febry 1769

Medium and dimensions

Pen, pencil and coloured washes including Indian yellow and verdigris on laid paper (291 x 424)


Adam office hand, possibly Giuseppe Manocchi


The use of the Chinoiserie style is extremely rare within Adam's work. The nearest contemporary example is Elizabeth Montagu's dressing room at 23 Hill Street, London, completed in 1766. It has previously been tentatively suggested that these mirror frames were intended for that room, but the date of these drawings does not tally. By 1769 Mrs Montagu had firmly allied herself with Adam's rival, James Stuart, who had already begun make alterations to the interior decorative scheme at her house.

This frame is not known to have been executed.



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

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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