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Designs for the great drawing room walls, 1773, as executed (1)


Two of the walls of the great drawing room are included in the second volume of The works in architecture of Robert and James Adam (part 1, plate 5), with the unusual combination of Doric pilasters and Ionic columns, and with mirrored recesses being reminiscent of the library at Kenwood. The chimney wall is illustrated in accordance with Adam's laid out wall elevations, but the end wall differs. In the Works, the end wall is open and screened by columns, giving a view into the neighbouring Etruscan dressing room. This was pure artistic licence which facilitated the illustration of a further room. Adam's preface to this plate reads:

Inside View of the Third and Great Withdrawing-room. The ornaments of the cieling and entablature are chiefly of stucco gilt, with a mixture of paintings. The grounds are coloured with various tints. The frames for glasses, the pedestals and vases in the niches, and the girandoles on the piers, are of wood gilt. This room is hung with satin, and is undoubtedly one of the most elegant rooms in Europe, whether we consider the variety or the richness of its decoration.

Here it is suggested that the walls of the room are shown as executed, although we know that the end wall was altered for the publication. Adam's laid out wall elevations are closest to the executed scheme, although the room was lost when the house was demolished in 1862.



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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Contents of Designs for the great drawing room walls, 1773, as executed (1)