I’ll bet if I say “Robert Adam” most readers and writers of Regency romance will know that he was a famous architect who greatly influenced architecture, interior design, and furniture design of the times–mostly Georgian times, but I imagine my Regency characters in houses designed by Adam all the time.
On my England trip last year, though, I learned of another architect of the same period, even more prolific than Adam–John Carr.
It’s an interior of Basildon Park by John Carr.
Carr was born in Yorkshire and decided to remain there rather than settle in London, thinking there was plenty of wealth in the area to support his business. He lived into his eighties and produced an incredible number of projects.
Tabley House is another house designed by John Carr similar to Basildon Park.
One characteristic of both these houses is that you have to go up stairs to reach the front entrance which is on the first floor, not the ground floor. I thought that was rather grand when we visited Basildon Park.
There was one famous house that both John Carr and Robert Adam designed–Harewood House near Leeds.
Carr designed the building and Robert Adam, the interiors. Adam also slightly altered Carr’s exterior, including internal courtyards.
Who is up for visiting all these houses? Don’t you sometimes wish we really had a Transporter like in Star Trek?
Bring out the stylized, Italian-influenced birthday cake with the straight, delicately fluted candles. It’s the birthday of architect and designer Robert Adam (July 3, 1728 – March 3, 1792), one of the great innovative designers of the Georgian period.
What made Adam so popular and influential? I like to think it’s because he made the connection between how people lived and how rooms should look, and that furniture should blend harmoniously with the decor. He created chairs that were made to be sat in with some degree of comfort, lower, and with backs that moulded to the spine, like the lyre back and shield back chairs.
His work reflected the tastes of a generation that considered the Grand Tour the final polishing of a gentleman’s education. He was the first designer to contract his work to other companies, notably that of Hepplewhite. There’s a complete list of characteristics of his work here.
Here are some pictures of Nostell Priory in Yorkshire, which features furniture designed specifically for the house when it was built in 1733.
While I was poking around online trying to find–and choose between–the many examples of Adam’s work, I found this antiques site, apter-fredericks.com, which has a wonderful timeline of furnishings–warning, I noticed some really awful mistakes in the history, but the furniture illustrations are wonderful.
Adam might not have been too easy to deal with–the National Trust site for Osterley Park, a Tudor house he was hired to modernize, describes him as “self-confident, brusque and with an unrivalled command of classical antiquity.” You get the feeling Mr. Adam liked to get his own way and was right more often than his browbeaten clients.
And talking of antiquity, did you catch Antiques Roadshow recently when this fabulous Georgian box desk, from ca. 1805, was appraised? Check it out.
Have you visited any Adam houses? Share your thoughts on decoration and furniture. Tell us about your latest home renovation projects or your antique fantasy wish list. That box desk is at the top of my list…