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Purpose

Preliminary design and finished drawing showing the elevation (east) towards Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 1771-74, unexecuted (2)

Notes

Of this scheme Rowan wrote the following: ‘Though the basic plan of the complex must have been fixed by the stage at which this drawing (Adam volume 21/41) was produced, almost every element in the symmetrical layout of the different blocks is treated as a variant between one side and the other side. Thus the tower at the left end of the central block contrast a three-bay facade with attic and a pyrmid roof while that on the right end has a huge Venetian window of Adamesue design surmounted by an attic, balustrade and cupole. In the same way the temple-front porticos in the centre of the quadrant recesses feature a shallow dome on the left and acroterian statues on the right.’ This variation had been worked further by the time the Adam office produced a finished drawing for this elevation (Adam volume 28/10), and the final scheme is symmetrical. Of the finished drawing Rowan wrote: ‘The stylish rendering of this long drawing is characteristic of the best work of the Adams’ office in the 1770s. Cold grey washes, carefully graded, throw the architecture into high relief, emphasizing the columns of the central portico which are left pure white. Of particular elegance is the use made of double washes to suggest the effect of light playing on the tops of the blocks of rustication on the ground floor. Adam had learned such techniques of draughtsmanship in Italy.'

Adam’s scheme for Lincoln’s Inn was not executed, and instead, Sir Robert Taylor’s designs were built in 1774-80. See scheme notes.

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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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