Robert and James Adam dominated British architecture for the second half of the eighteenth century. The key period in the development of the Adam style was their time as Grand Tourists in Italy - three years for Robert four for James. During these years they toured Italy from their base in the Casa Guarnieri in Rome. As architects they studied and drew after the Antique as Grand Tourists they formed a vast collection of paintings and drawings. It was this collection that was sold during the years 1765-1821. The drawings themselves were acquired by Sir John Soane in 1833 for his new Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields London.
These drawings together with the brothers' fascinating letters and James' journal form a unique picture. Each complements and extends the other to make up a remarkable document for any student of the eighteenth century and Italy. This book gives an account of the brothers' aspirations and achievements in making their Grand Tours, tracing James' role as well as Robert's. It was James, during his four years in Italy, who amassed an outstanding collection of paintings, drawings and sculpture and moreover arranged the purchase of the huge Albani collection for George III. Much of this was displayed in the brothers' house and office at 75 Lower Grosvenor Street in a casino in the garden before the first Adam sale of 1765. The way in which Robert and James Adam composed their architecture and even the manner in which they drew in watercolour and wash was the achievement of these years as Grand Tourists.
The essence of all this is revealed in the Adam collection that Soane acquired with an eye to the education of future architects. Soane perceptively saw the collection in the same way as Robert Adam: as the whole Soul, Body and Guts of their architecture.
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