Inscribed in pencil in a nineteenth-century hand Villa Pamfili; in red ink 46
Signed and dated
Medium and dimensions
Pencil, pen, grey wash454 x 397
James Adam, office of (attributed to), after James Byres
This drawing is of one of the panels designed by Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654) from the Sala Rotonda in the Villa Doria Pamphilj (Villa Belrespiro), Rome, and can be associated with the drawings after James Byres in Adam volume 26, such as 26/174. According to a contemporary, Algardi 'apart from the good example of Raphael and Giulio Romano, betook himself to Tivoli to draw some remains of the celebrated Villa Adriana, and accustomed himself to a low relief stucco, lightly framing the area with purity and symmetrical spacing' (J. Montagu, Alessandro Algardi, 2 vols., London, 1985, I, p.99). There were seven medallions but this does not correspond accurately to any of them (see Montagu op. cit. II, p.456). Another medallion panel, probably from the Sala Rotonda, is also depicted in Adam vol.56/47. In the Adam sale of 1818 (Catalogue of A Valuable Collection of Antique Sculpture etc. R. Adam Christie's, London, 21 & 22 May 1818), lot 54 was a volume containing '218 drawings of vases, ornaments, from the antique at Rome, from the Villa Pamphili'. This drawing and those in Adam vol.56/47-48, and others in Adam volume 26 may have been part of this collection. The pencil inscription Villa Pamfili is in the same hand as found in Adam vol.56/39.As Stillman makes clear, Robert Adam used these studies of the Villa Pamphilj in his work on the drawing-room ceiling at Hatchlands in 1759-61 (see D. Stillman, The Decorative Work of Robert Adam, London, 1966, p.96). In his essay in 1762, James Adam placed Algardi, along with Michelangelo, Pirro Ligorio and Giovanni da Udine, among those who '...rendered many morcelles otherwise indifferent really precious to us and have imitated in no inconsiderable degree the beauty and elegance of the ancients...' (see J. Fleming, Robert Adam and His Circle in Edinburgh & Rome, London, 1962, p.317). In this he was repeating his brother Robert's opinion, for in September 1756 the latter had written 'of what good buildings are in Rome, either within or without particularly those done from the Ancients by Pirro Ligorio, Algardi & Salvi' (National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, Clerk of Penicuik Collection, GD18/4817).On left-hand side of sheet are pencil details of mouldings.
Rep. D. Stillman The Decorative Work of Robert Adam, London, 1966, pl.119
Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation