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Purpose

Design and finished drawing for the ceiling of the auditorium, 1775-76, Adam volume 14/17 as executed (2)

Notes

The ceiling in the auditorium at the Drury Lane Theatre was executed in trompe l'oeil, in exact accordance with Adam's earlier drawing (Adam volume 14/17). The existence of a later, unexecuted scheme for the ceiling (Adam volume 14/16) suggests an intention to repaint it, but this was never executed.

Of the unexecuted scheme for the ceiling, Stillman wrote the following: ‘Filled with characteristic Adam motifs and arrangements, it is a subdivided ceiling that revolved around a central panel with a classical subject medallion. Among the motifs employed in the various panels are long subject plaques, ovals, valerium fans, octagons with rosettes, and patterns of subdivided panels composed of nine adjacent octagons. The controlled variation in panel size and content reflects Adam’s sense of unity amid variety, and the refined Neo-classical character of the decoration is also typical of Adam’s domestic work, especially the houses decorated in this same decade of the 1770s.’

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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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