Robert Adam

Robert Adam

Adam, Robert, 1728-92, and James Adam, 1730-94, Scottish architects, brothers. They designed important public and private buildings in England and Scotland and numerous interiors, pieces of furniture, and decorative objects. Robert possessed the great creative talents, with his brother James serving chiefly as his assistant. Robert Adam designed his buildings to achieve the most harmonious relation between the exterior, the interior, and the furniture. His light, elegant, and essentially decorative style was a free, personal reconstitution of antique motifs. He drew upon numerous sources including earlier English Palladian architecture, French and Italian Renaissance architecture, and the antique monuments themselves as he knew them through publications and personal investigation. Adam himself contributed an important study, Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia (1764). For decorative painting, Adam employed such artists as Angelica Kauffmann and Antonio Zucchi. The Adam manner gained great favor in his day, and designs in the Adam style have never ceased to appear. Especially interesting examples of Adam planning and decoration are Osterly Park, Middlesex (1761-80); Syon House, Middlesex (1762-69); and Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire (1768-75). The brothers wrote Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam (3 vol., 1778-1822). Robert was architect to the king from 1762 until 1768, when he was succeeded by James. Robert Adam was buried in Westminster Abbey.

See J. Fleming, Robert Adam and His Circle (1962) and D. Stillman, The Decorative Work of Robert Adam (1966); D. Yarwood, Robert Adam (1970).

(born July 3, 1728, Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scot.—died March 3, 1792, London, Eng.) Scottish architect and designer. Son of the architect William Adam, he apprenticed in his father's offices. He traveled in Europe in 1754–58, studying architectural theory and Roman ruins. On his return to London, he and his brother James (1732–94) developed an essentially decorative style—known as the Adam style—that was marked by a new lightness and freedom in the use of the Classical elements of architecture. This style is most remembered for its application in interiors, which were characterized by contrasting room shapes and delicate Classical ornaments. Robert Adam's executed works, mainly remodeled interiors and exteriors of private houses, include Osterley Park (1761–80) in Middlesex and Kedleston Hall (circa 1765–70) in Derbyshire. Other works include the Adelphi development in London (1768–72) and the University of Edinburgh (1789). He was also a leading furniture designer; his style, popularized by designer George Hepplewhite, was meant to harmonize with his interior architecture down to the last detail.

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