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  • image SM Adam volume 31/22

Reference number

SM Adam volume 31/22


[1] Design for an altar, c1768, unexecuted


Elevation of a stepped classical screen set within a lancet window. The central pedimented section of the screen contains an apse articulated by Corinthian pilasters ornamented with scrolled hearts. Within there are panels ornamented with rosettes, arabesques, and anthemia and above this there is a frieze of anthemia and Vitruvian scroll, with capitals containing patera. The semi-dome of the apse is ornamented with a band of enclosed anthemia and figurative compartments, with bands of drop calyx set in between. Above this there are portrait medallions and compartments containing scrolled hearts. The apse is flanked by rosettes and giant, fluted Corinthian columns ornamented with a band of scales. The central section of the screen has a frieze of festoons and peltoid shields, alternating with rosettes. Above this there is a further frieze of scrolled hearts, anthemia and calyx, and the tympanum is ornamented with a shield bearing the arms of the University of Cambridge, flanked by arabesques. The central section is flanked by compartmental doors bordered by drop calyx, with cornices of scrolled acanthus leaves and friezes of enclosed anthemia and arabesques supporting calyx. The doorways are flanked by Corinthian pilasters ornamented with scrolled hearts enclosing calyx. Above there are capitals containing patera and friezes of Vitruvian scroll enclosing anthemia, and these are surmounted by medallions depicting birds, arabesques supporting tubular flowers, and further birds


bar scale of 2 1/2 inches to 10 feet


Design of a Skreen for Kings College Cambridge- (in the hand of William Adam, underwritten in pencil)

Signed and dated

  • c1768

Medium and dimensions

Pen and pencil on laid paper (495 x 598)


James Adam, with title inscription in the hand of William Adam


Bolton, 1922, Volume II, Index, p. 6
Doig, 1978, pp. 79-82
King, 2001, Volume II, p. 59
For a full list of literature references 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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