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image Adam vol.9/56

Reference number

Adam vol.9/56

Purpose

Academic study showing part of a symmetrical city with harbour basin, a square of formal public gardens in the centre and a hemicycle of buildings, with additional squares and gardens to the side.

Aspect

Bird's-eye viewverso outline plan

Inscribed

Inscribed in ink on drawing 56

Signed and dated

  • Undated, probably c1756

Medium and dimensions

Pen170 x 278

Hand

Robert Adam

Verso

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.

Watermark

letter A R

Notes

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.

Literature

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.

Level

Drawing

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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