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image Adam vol.56/164

Reference number

Adam vol.56/164


Italy: Rome, Colosseum. View showing part of the interior of the Colosseum taken from between two internal walls, with details of the vaulting and masonry.




Inscribed in ink 72; in red ink on drawing 164 and on album leaf 164.

Signed and dated

  • Undated, eighteenth century.

Medium and dimensions

Pencil, pen, grey and brown washes261 x 195, laid/mounted onto backing sheet and trimmed to drawing


Unidentified eighteenth-century artist


There are numerous views of the Colosseum, Rome by Robert Adam and his circle, and this perspective was a favourite one. The drawing can be compared with a composition by Allan Ramsay (1713-1784) of 1755 (see National Gallery of Scotland, D.3775). Adam had connections with Ramsay in 1755 and wrote in December that year that 'Ramsay has done nothing to my picture' (National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, Clerk of Penicuik Collection, GD18/4794). However, the accomplished if somewhat spiky draughtsmanship here is unlike that of either Adam or Ramsay. There are at least two views of the interior of the Colosseum in the Blair Adam collection (BA 290 and 286), and several in the Clerk Collection, Scotland (Clerk 22-27), and Adam and Ramsay views of the Acqua Vergine (see J. Fleming 'An Italian Sketchbook by Robert Adam, Clérisseau and others', The Connoisseur, 146 (1960), p.190, pl.11 and 12).The consecutive ink numeral 71 and 72 and remains of a backing sheet on both this drawing and Adam vol.56/163 suggest that they may once have been part of the same, now dismembered, volume.



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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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