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Adam, Robert(ăd`əm), 1728–92, and
James Adam,1730–94, Scottish architects, brothers. They designed important public and private buildings in England and Scotland and numerous interiors, pieces of furniture, and decorative objects. Robert possessed the great creative talents, with his brother James serving chiefly as his assistant. Robert Adam designed his buildings to achieve the most harmonious relation between the exterior, the interior, and the furniture. His light, elegant, and essentially decorative style was a free, personal reconstitution of antique motifs. He drew upon numerous sources including earlier English Palladian architecture, French and Italian Renaissance architecture, and the antique monuments themselves as he knew them through publications and personal investigation. Adam himself contributed an important study, Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia (1764). For decorative painting, Adam employed such artists as Angelica Kauffmann and Antonio Zucchi. The Adam manner gained great favor in his day, and designs in the Adam style have never ceased to appear. Especially interesting examples of Adam planning and decoration are Osterly Park, Middlesex (1761–80); Syon House, Middlesex (1762–69); and Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire (1768–75). The brothers wrote Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam (3 vol., 1778–1822). Robert was architect to the king from 1762 until 1768, when he was succeeded by James. Robert Adam was buried in Westminster Abbey.
See J. Fleming, Robert Adam and His Circle (1962) and D. Stillman, The Decorative Work of Robert Adam (1966); D. Yarwood, Robert Adam (1970).
British architect whose designs returned to the Classical forms of antiquity, not their Renaissance-derived imitations. Adam excelled in using the early Classical forms in domestic settings.