Paper by Adriano Aymonino at Georgian Group symposium
22 October 2015
Dr Adriano Aymonino spoke at the Georgian Group’s symposium on Robert Adam and His Brothers (23-24 September 2015). His paper was entitled “Robert Adam and the birth of the ‘true style of antique decoration’: the interiors at Kedleston Hall and their antiquarian sources”.
Kedleston Hall was refurbished by Adam for Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Baron Scarsdale (1726-1804) from 1759. Although the design was restricted by the previously constructed work of Matthew Brettingham (1699-1769), and James Paine (1717-89), Adam managed to create there some of his earliest and most spectacular interiors.
In Lady Scarsdale’s Dressing Room and then in other rooms of the house, Adam and his collaborator Agostino Brunias (1730-96) made use for the first time of some of the antiquarian sources that proved to be vital in the formulation and success of the firm’s decorative style. Among others, the drawings after antique Roman decorations by Francesco Bartoli (1675-1730) preserved in Richard Topham’s collection at Eton, were determinant in shaping Adam’s ‘true style of antique decoration’ – as he called it in his Works in Architecture.
The paper investigated the genesis of Adam decorative style, its characteristics and how different sources were used to serve different formal and iconographical purposes at Kedleston Hall and in successive Adam interiors. More generally, it considered the various levels of reference to the Antique that Adam could offer to his clients.