Soane Museum Study Group – Wednesday 8 May – Rory Lamb

Regular price £5.00

The Soane Museum Study Group is an open forum for scholars – both established and emerging – to present new research into an aspect of architectural history and/or Soane’s collection.

Rory Lamb - “An improved school for building in Scotland": The Architectural Ambitions of James Playfair 

Wednesday 8 May, 6:30pm

On arrival please come to No.14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The door will be staffed from 6pm.

Your confirmation email serves as your ticket.

About the event

The death of James Playfair aged thirty-eight in 1794 brought to an abrupt close what might have been a dazzling architectural career, exemplified in the cutting edge neoclassical design of Playfair's final work, Cairness House in Aberdeenshire. Born near Dundee in 1755, Playfair established himself in London in the mid 1780s under the patronage of the politician Henry Dundas, through whom he developed a client-base largely made up of other Scots. This talk examines James Playfair's career through the evidence of his letters and journal which reveal an architect with a particular vision, namely the desire to "improve" Scottish architecture by aligning it with the standards of metropolitan London. By understanding Playfair's self-conception as a London architect supervising projects in Scotland, the talk aims to begin shedding new light on the nearly 300 of his drawings purchased by Sir John Soane from Playfair's widow in 1794 and now held in the Museum's collections.

About the speaker

Rory Lamb recently completed his doctorate in architectural history at the University of Edinburgh, funded by the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities. His thesis was successfully defended in March 2024, entitled: "The Scots in London, Townhouses, Identity and the Metropolis, 1660-1800". Rory's latest research is to begin a new catalogue of the collection of James Playfair's drawings held at Sir John Soane's Museum.

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