According to Hussey the ill proportions of Ripley's Admiralty building were accentuated by Adam's 140-foot screen: 'the Admiralty building and its screen harmonise as badly as could be expected of a bluff old sea-dog and a genteel dilettante'. This may be true despite Adam's pedimented pavilions echoing the Ripley building above. It is the simplicity of Adam's colonnaded screen wall that is its beauty, though according to Rowan when the screen was built it was in an unfamiliar, even revolutionary style compared to the neo-Palladianism of the preceding years. As with so many triumphal arches, the central arched gateway of Adam's Admiralty Screen appears to be loosely based on the Arch of Titus, though without the paired Ionic columns, and in place of the customary inscription tablet across the attic Adam included a balustrade. Two of the columns and part of the rear wall were removed (1827-28) in order to allow freer access for the Duke of Clarence's carriage, though happily this damage was restored in 1923. Adam's screen is now as it was executed.
In addition to the Admiralty Screen drawings held at Sir John Soane's Museum there are two engravings in the Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam: a perspective (I:IV:I); and a plan and elevation (III:XII). This is an unsurprising inclusion as the widely admired Admiralty Screen was Robert Adam's first commission for public architecture in London. Illustrations of the Evans building and the Ripley building with its original boundary wall are to be found in the Survey of London (Volume XVI, plate 58).
See also: Hatchlands, Surrey
R. and J. Adam, Works in architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1773, I:IV:I, 1822, III:XII; A. T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index p. 34; C. Hussey, 'The Admiralty Building, Whitehall', Country Life, 17 November 1923, p. 687; The Survey of London, Volume XVI: Charing Cross (St Martin-in-the-Fields, Part I), 1935, pp. 45-70; J. and A. Rykwert, The Brothers Adam: The men and the style, 1985, p. 54; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, p. 34; S. Bradley, and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 6: Westminster, 2003, pp. 250-251; A. Rowan, 'Bob the Roman', Heroic antiquity & the architecture of Robert Adam, 2003, pp. 28 and 30
Frances Sands, 2011
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.
Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).
Contents of The Admiralty Screen, Whitehall, London: 1759-60, executed (6)
- Preliminary design, alternative finished drawings, and a drawing made for publication for the Admiralty Screen wall, 1759 (4)
- Working drawings for sculptural additions to the Admiralty Screen, as executed, 1759 (2)