Adam, Robert

Adam, Robert
b. 3 July 1728 Kirkcaldy, Scotland
d. 3 March 1792 London, England
Scottish architect, active mostly in England, who led the neo-classical movement between 1760 and 1790.
Robert Adam was a man of outstanding talent, immense energy dedicated to his profession, and of great originality, who utilized all sources of classical art from ancient Greece and Rome as well as from the Renaissance and Baroque eras in Italy. He was also a very practical exponent of neo-classicism and believed in using the latest techniques to produce fine craftsmanship.
Of particular interest to him was stucco, the material needed for elegant, finely crafted ceiling and wall designs. Stucco, though the Italian word for plaster, refers architecturally to a specific form of the material. Known as Stucco duro (hard plaster), its use and composition dates from the days of ancient Rome. Giovanni da Udine, a pupil of Raphael, having discovered some fine stucco antico in the ruins of the Palace of Titus in Rome, carried out extensive research during the Italian Renaissance in order to discover its precise composition; it was a mixture of powdered crystalline limestone (travertine), river sand, water and powdered white marble. The marble produced an exceptionally hard stucco when set, thereby differentiating it from plaster-work, and was a material fine enough to make delicate relief and statuary work possible.
In the 1770s Robert Adam's ceiling and wall designs were characterized by low-relief, delicate, classical forms. He and his brothers, who formed the firm of Adam Brothers, were interested in a stucco which would be especially fine grained and hard setting. A number of new products then appearing on the market were easier to handle than earlier ones. These included a stucco by Mr David Wark, patented in 1765, and another by a Swiss clergyman called Liardet in 1773; the Adam firm purchased both patents and obtained an Act of Parliament authorizing them to be the sole vendors and makers of this stucco, which they called "Adam's new invented patent stucco". More new versions appeared, among which was one by a Mr Johnson, who claimed it to be an improvement. The Adam Brothers, having paid a high price for their rights, took him to court. The case was decided in 1778 by Lord Mansfield, a fellow Scot and a patron (at Kenwood), who,
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Member of the Society of Arts 1758. FRS 1761. Architect to the King's Works 1761.
1764, Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro.
1773, Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam.
Further Reading
A.T.Bolton, 1922, The Architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1758–1794, 2 vols, Country Life.
J.Fleming, 1962, Robert Adam and his Circle, Murray. J.Lees-Milne, 1947, The Age of Adam, Batsford.
J.Rykwert and A.Rykwert, 1985, The Brothers Adam, Collins. D.Yarwood, 1970, Robert Adam, Dent.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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