The Genius of Robert Adam – His Interiors
Interiors were Robert Adam’s great achievement. The synthesis of architecture, planning and decoration.
Though Adam’s decoration is usually regarded as little more than delicate surface embroidery, its purpose, in fact, was considerably broader. It served to articulate, focus and define a room, to relate the different elements within it, to achieve balance and symmetry and to give character.
Ceiling patterns, for instance, were put to a variety of uses to mark out the subtle rhythm of the wall elevations, or to draw attention to the center of the room or divert the eye away from asymmetrical walls, to emphasize the curve of an arched ceiling or to suggest a shallow dome or a groin vault on a flat ceiling.
Regardless of whether Adam’s ceilings were executed in stucco or painted in the ‘Antique Style’, whether they incorporated paintings by Zucchi of classical subjects or were purely decorative, their impact was immediate. From Adam’s point of view, grotesques and geometrical patterns had the additional advantage of allowing him maximum artistic freedom.
He also had similar reasons for his preference for wall panels which were enriched with folliage or trophies. Saying, unlike the orders, ‘one can vary the proportions at pleasure. . .and likewise the ornament within the panels may be changed to grotesques or any other composition as light as one chooses.’ In the course of thirty years’ practice, Adam incorporated endless changes on his range of decorative works, conjuring ever lighter and more refined effects.
Color was Adam’s most distinctive contribution to decoration. He used small-scale inlaid scagliola ornaments in a wide range of colors.
Faux marble in this foyer.