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Adam, Robert


Robert Adam was born in Kirkcaldy. He followed his father into architecture.
He studied at Edinburgh and in Rome (1754-8) and it was there that he drew his inspiration from the ancient ruins and painted frescoes that would transform his work. With his brother James he set up an architectural practice in London. Initially it was interior design that they became famous for, transforming the houses of the richer members of British society. In 1761 Robert was appointed Architect of the King's Works, thanks to the influence of his fellow countryman the Marquis of Bute. Robert's firm was responsible for some of the most beautiful buildings in the United Kingdom. Some of the finest examples are Home House in Portland Square, London (1765), Charlotte Square in the New Town of Edinburgh (1791) and Register House; home of the National Archives of Scotland (1774). The spectacular Culzean Castle, built for the tenth Earl of Cassillis in Ayrshire, contains a unique double staircase in an oval space (1777-9).

Further reading: Harris, Eileen, The genius of Robert Adam: his interiors, (Yale, 2001)
Bryant, Julius, Robert Adam, 1728-92: architect of genius, (London, 1992)
Robert Adam and his circle, in Edinburgh & Rome, (London, 1962)

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