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Variant designs for the ceiling for the ante room, 1761, Adam volume 11/17 executed with minor alterations (2)


The ante room is located in the south-west corner of the house, adjacent to the hall and the dining room. Here Adam installed a richly coloured interior, which is particularly striking following the cool and sober colours of the hall.

Adam volume 11/17 shows the executed scheme for the ceiling of the ante room with very minor decorative alterations. The ceiling is supported by 12 columns of verde antico, sourced in Italy by James Adam during his Grand Tour, and shipped to England in March 1765. These are reputed to have been found on the bed of the River Tiber, but this is deeply questionable. The Ionic capitals which Adam designed for the antique columns are a combination of those from the Erechtheum, and various examples he had seen in Rome. They comprise one of the rare examples of Adam making use of Greek motifs, most likely garnered from engraved sources such as the works of Piranesi and Le Roy. Adam did not, however, copy the Greek capitals directly, but rather created a synthesis of various different designs.

The trophy panels on the walls of the ante room are gilt - indeed the entire room makes use of uncharacteristically heavy gilding for an Adam interior - and are based on the 1st century BC carvings of trophies of arms: 'the Trophies of Marius', which during Adam's Grand Tour had recently been installed on the balustrade in the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome. Piranesi had engraved these Roman trophy panels in his Trofei Di Ottaviano Augusto (1753), a copy of which was in Adam's possession, but Adam had also seen them in Rome, owned large drawings of them (SM Adam volumes 26/88-92), attributed to his draughtsman Antonio Zucchi, and he also produced something very similar at Osterley.

There are four engravings showing this room in The works in architecture of Robert and James Adam. Volume I contains two sections of the room, and an engraving showing various ornamental details of the room, and volume II contains engravings of the trophy panels on the walls, and of the ceiling.



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Contents of Variant designs for the ceiling for the ante room, 1761, Adam volume 11/17 executed with minor alterations (2)