Sir John Soane’s Museum London is the historic house, museum and library of distinguished 19th century architect Sir John Soane. At Soane’s request, the house has been left untouched since his death – almost 180 years ago. Worth a visit simply to take in Soane’s impressive collection and home, the museum’s latest exhibition (open today until 11 March 2017), Robert Adam’s London is set to attract a host of architecture and interiors fans.
Robert Adam was one of the most prolific architects and interior designers to the wealthy in the 18th century. Adam’s work features interiors and architectural details for Buckingham Palace (the Buckingham House); the still visible Admiralty Screen outside Whitehall, and interiors of some of the most astonishing London townhouses. Adam’s designs were always ambitious, so much so that many times, his designs would be too vast and impressive for even royalty and aristocracy to afford. 80% of all of the last surviving drawings of Adam’s work is included in this exhibition at the historic Sir John Soane’s Museum.
The exhibition spans seven themes, starting with Robert Adam at Home, leading into Public Buildings; Speculative Buildings; Commercial Buildings; New Townhouses; Second Wives; Royal Patrons; Female Patrons and finally ending with an insight into Adam’s work in Interior Decoration. Each theme shows the diversity of his ambitious work in both architecture and interior design.
Although Adam worked on both country estates, and London townhouses, this exhibition of his work focus’s on the London Adam knew, i.e, not including his work at Kenwood House (which was not in London in the 18th Century).
Bruce Boucher, Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum says, ‘ Not only is it an invaluable record of the work of one of this country’s most innovative architects, but also a fascinating glimpse into what London could have been had all his projects survived or come to fruition. People have always cared passionately about the architecture of London, as today’s fierce debates testify, so it is wonderful to be able to examine this fascinating chapter in the architectural history of this great city, right in the heart of the city itself.’
Adam had this wonderful knack of distilling the orimental vigour of a country house, down into the tiny homes of a terrace house. I think that was why he was so successful on the domestic scene. He was creating these interiors that were punching above their weight, considering they were just country houses and allowing tasteful and wealthy patrons to show off about what sort of exciting , fashionable styles might be hidden away in their country houses, out of reach.
Dr Frances Sands, the curator of drawing and books at Sir John Soane’s Museum.