The gallery runs across the full length of the eastern range of the house. The footprint of the room is thought to have been dictated by the original dormitory for the Bridgettine nuns, but the current shell is composed of a low Jacobean gallery space, being 42 metres long, and only 4.3 metres wide and high. These dimensions were problematic for Adam as the room did not allow for the fashionably high ceilings of eighteenth-century interiors. Adam combatted this by subdividing the room with 62 pilasters with painted ornament by Pergolesi (1768) along the length of the walls, providing a horizontal emphasis, and tricking they eye into thinking that the ceiling is higher than it actually is.
The room was decorated by Adam in 1763-68, and it has been suggested by Sir John Summerson that the gallery at Syon comprises the first instance of Adam's light mature style. Adam volumes 39/1-2 show the room nearly as executed. The niches originally held statues and urns, but were in-filled with bookshelves in 1828.
The executed chimneypieces in the gallery are by Adam, but they do not correspond with those shown in these drawings, and there are no known drawings for their design.
There is a perspective view of Adam's gallery within the collection at the V&A Museum, and two engravings of the room in volume III of The works in architecture of Robert and James Adam, showing an interior view and a section.
Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation
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