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- the architectural style based on the work of Robert Adam, 1728-1792, and
two of his brothers, John and James. For much of his career, Adam enjoyed extremely
important patronage, was the predominant architect in Britain in the latter part of
the 18th century and was extremely influential both at home and abroad from America
to Russia. He began working for his father William Adam who was the formost Scots
architect of his day on commissions such as Hopetoun House. He undertook a grand
tour from 1754 - 1758 where his studies gave him the confidence to offer a new,
more refined and varied version of neo-clasicism. In effect he adopted the classical
orders and decoration to suit his own needs, applying them to all manner of buildings
and objects. His interiors were imaginatively planned and varied in richness and colour.
He designed all aspects of his buildings down to the smallest detail, and was often asked
to "improve upon" existing buildings.
His success can be measured against the fact that, while he practiced for only some
thirty years, his art became synonymous with the entire Georgian period 1714 - 1830.
Like all great architects he was confident of his own talent, he declared himself to
be responsible for a revolution in taste, and his "Works in Architecture" published in
1773 with his brother John, was obvious self promotion. Not surprisingly therefore he had
his critics who sneeringly referred to his work as "Adam's Gingerbread".
His reputation and finances were damaged when he attempted to
develop a scheme of 24 grand houses on a site by the Thames christened "The Adelphi" (adelphoi is Greek for
brothers). For the best work
on the subject see Steven Parissien's "Adam Style"
NB While revival styles tend to be viewed in a somewhat derogatory manner, they should
be taken just as seriously as those from which they are derived.