- Robert and James Adam office drawings
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.
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.
Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).