Robert Adam

Robert Adam (ăd´əm), 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).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Robert Adam and His Circle, in Edinburgh & Rome
John Fleming.
Harvard University Press, 1962
The Age of Adam
James Lees-Milne.
B. T. Batsford, 1947
The Building of Old College: Adam, Playfair & the University of Edinburgh
Andrew G. Fraser.
Edinburgh University Press, 1989
FREE! The Lives of the British Architects from William of Wykeham to Sir William Chambers
E. Beresford Chancellor.
Duckworth, 1909
Librarian’s tip: "Robert Adam" begins on p. 304
Architecture in Britain, 1530 to 1830
John Summerson.
Penguin Books, 1954
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 26 "William Chambers and Robert Adam"
The Making of Classical Edinburgh, 1750-1840
A. J. Youngson.
Edinburgh University Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Robert Adam begins on p. 67
Thomas Chippendale, a Study of His Life, Work, and Influence
Oliver Brackett.
Hodder and Stoughton, Limited, 1924
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VI "The Influence of Robert Adam"
A History of Scottish Architecture: From the Renaissance to the Present Day
Miles Glendinning; Ranald MacInnes; Aonghus MacKechnie.
Edinburgh University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "1760-1800: Rationalism and Irrationalism"
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