2005 Clarence Ward Exhibition and Birthday Party

"Books for the Grand Tour: Architecture, Archaeology and the Dilettante."

Robert Adam

Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia, 1764

Robert Adam is the only author who would forge a highly influential career as an architect, overseeing the building of numerous important town and country homes throughout Great Britain and creating a significant partnership with his brother James that culminated in a significant interior decorative style. The plates in Adam's book span a gap between the quest for archaeological truth, instigated by Desgodets, furthered by Stuart and Revett and ultimately subordinated by Adam where he felt that scenic views properly conveyed the grandeur and beauty that was of real importance in documenting architectural ruins. Adam's refutation of the sterile insistence on accuracy advocated by Robert Wood and his followers in the form of a combination of art and fact; however, owes much to the engraving of Charles Louis Clérisseau (1721-1820), who unfortunately, on account of Adam's pride would receive no formal credit for his substantial work.

While in Rome, Robert Adam was a regular part of the circle of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778). Piranesi would provide another source of inspiration and artistic collaboration in presenting the truth of the ruins not in confining replications of their exact measurements, but in the emotional effect the ruins have on the enlightened observer, much like earlier French landscape painters such as Claude Lorrain, albeit more dramatic and theatrical in presentation then the earlier French painters.