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Rough preliminary drawing made for publication for various items of furniture, 1774 (1)


This design shows how Adam set about organising his plates for The works in architecture of Robert and James Adam, and is a preliminary design for the last engraving pertaining to Kenwood (Volume I, Part II, plate viii). Here are included mirrors for the hall, library, and private dining parlour, and a sideboard table, wine cistern and pedestals supporting urns for the eating parlour or hall. The curtain cornice seen here was not included in the final engraving, and the table was engraved with several urns, rather than the central spoon box and dish. It appears that Adam roughed out the objects to be included, and their arrangement in ink, and later added measurements for the pieces in pencil, presumably in order to assist in the production of an accurate scaled drawing for the engraver.

Some of this furniture was executed. The central, rectangular pier glass is similar to those executed for the library, and which remain in situ. The two oval mirrors are similar to those executed by George Burns and Sefferin Nelson for the dining parlour and the hall, but are both now lost. The curtain cornice, however, does not correlate with any known executed feature for the house. All of the furniture for the hall was executed by Sefferin Nelson, and billed for in 1773. The sideboard table shown here differs from the executed version which has a fluted table rail, guilloche along the edge of the slab, and a peltoid shield at the centre of the apron. The wine cooler was executed in mahogany, and with a central lion mask, and the pedestals were ornamented with a central rosettes, and bands of acanthus leaves. Since their sale in 1922 the sideboard table, wine cistern and pedestals have been reassembled in the hall at Kenwood, albeit without the original urns. There is some confusion as to the original location of this furniture, as it is labelled for a dining room, and it is therefore unclear whether it was intended for the dining parlour, or the hall. Although these pieces now reside in the hall, when they were first reacquired for the house they were installed in the dining parlour.



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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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Contents of Rough preliminary drawing made for publication for various items of furniture, 1774 (1)