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  • image SM Adam volume 14/83

Reference number

SM Adam volume 14/83


[7] Record drawing of a ceiling for the drawing room, c1780, probably as executed


Plan of a rectangular tripartite ceiling, divided by plain bands, with an apse on one of the long sides. The central square compartment contains a central circular figurative medallion, enclosed with alternative arrangements of anthemia set within a circular frame of husks, and surrounded by four medallions containing a putto at each of the four cardinal points, and with drops at each corner composed of a rosette encircled by husks, a tablet featuring griffins flanking an urn on a pedestal, a mask with festoons, a perfume burner and tubular flower. The rectangular bordering compartments contain a central elliptical figurative medallion encircled by anthemia and husks, which is linked to a half-elliptical figurative medallion at each end by drops composed of tripod, tabula ansata containing an enclosed rosette with festoons, calyx and a cameo. Each compartment is framed by a border of husks. The apse contains a figurative tablet, surmounted by a tripod and reclining female figure holding a cornucopia, and with an apron composed of an ox skull, husks, festoons and an enclosed rosette


to a scale


Cieling for the Drawing room at Byram

Signed and dated

  • c1780
    datable to c1780

Medium and dimensions

Pen, pencil and coloured washes of cerulean blue, Indian yellow, sepia and black on laid paper (427 x 561)


Adam office hand, possibly Joseph Bonomi or Robert Morison


This drawing is one of three relating to Sir John Ramsden’s drawing room (see also Adam volumes 23/151 and 50/70). In conjunction with Adam volume 50/70, this drawing demonstrates Adam’s progression towards integrating elements into a unified design.

This drawing shows a fine ceiling in Etruscan colours. Harris notes that this project marks a new move (around 1780) to apply the Etruscan, hitherto reserved for ladies’ dressing rooms and bedrooms, to more stately rooms.

Precedents for Byram’s rectangular tripartite ceiling divided by bands with a flat-roofed apse on one of the long sides include the drawing room for Mistley, 1778, (Adam volumes 14/25-28) and the drawing room for Roxburghe House, 1778, (Adam volumes 14/37-39). A close comparandum for the geometry of this drawing is Adam’s ‘Design of a ceiling for Dr. Warren’s Drawing Room’, 1775, (Adam volumes 14/6, 8).

It is likely that this room influenced a suite of furniture for the dining room of the 4th Baronet’s sister, Mrs Weddell, at Newby Hall.


Bolton, 1922, Volume II, Index p. 5
Stillman, 1966, pp. 77-78
Spiers, 1979, p. 26, Index, p. 5
Harris, 2001, pp. 11, 221, 336, 357
King, 2001, Volume I, pp. 252, 263
For a full list of literature references see scheme notes.



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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