Inscribed in ink on drawing 56
Signed and dated
Medium and dimensions
Pen170 x 278
Drawing in pen showing an outline plan with buildings and a river at its estuary; although this is possibly, and logically, the estuary of the River Tagus in Italy, it is most likely, and prosaically, to be the Moray Forth with Fort George in Scotland. There is a similar but more finished plan of 1752 (see I. MacIvor, Fort George, Edinburgh, 1996, p.24). A Scottish site would suggest that this is a re-used sheet, such as Adam vol. 55/5, where several overlapping plans of Fort George were on the verso.
letter A R
The aerial perspective and the outline plan on the verso have been associated with the scheme in Adam vol.9/60 and all relate to the Adam proposal of 1756 for rebuilding the centre of Lisbon, Portugal, destroyed in the fire and earthquake of 1755 (see K. Maxwell, Pombal, Paradox of the Enlightenment, Cambridge, 1995, and A. A. Tait, Robert Adam: drawings and imagination, Cambridge, 1993, pp.40-50). Robert Adam wrote half seriously in April 1756 '....let me descant a little on my private incitements to a scheme which there is a thousand chances to one never will take place. The being called by a Prince as the properest person in the universe to build a whole city is no unflattering idea, but still more so when one consideres the éclat, the elevated appearance and the fortune that may be made in a few years by it; the advantage of Clérisseau's assistance and council, who is such a man as will do a great deal and yet is neither ambitious of nor made for company and show, so would in no way intercept my applause, whilst he would every day be enabling me to obtain and increase it.' (J. Fleming, Robert Adam and His Circle in Edinburgh & Rome, London, 1962, p.205). The Lisbon Scheme was in every sense an academic exercise.
Rep. J. Fleming, Robert Adam and His Circle in Edinburgh & Rome, London, 1962, p.207, fig.10; A. A. Tait, Robert Adam, The Creative Mind: from the sketch to the finished drawing, catalogue of an exhibition at Sir John Soane's Museum, London, 1996, p.37.
Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation