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Watercolour of Buckingham House's East Library
The Libraries of George III

George III was a keen bibliophile

ROBERT ADAM (1728–92)

Ruins of the palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro


53.7 x 39.2 x 5.5 cm (book measurement (conservation)) | RCIN 1071086

Robert Adam was one of the foremost architects working in the neo-classical style. After university, Adam undertook the Grand Tour, becoming acquainted with archaeologists and architects, and designing fantasy buildings based on what he saw in Rome. The climax of his tour was Dalmatia, which he visited in 1757 in the company of the French architect Charles-Louis Clérisseau. Clérisseau’s speciality was fantasy buildings or actual buildings set in imagined, romantic landscapes. He was to provide the picturesque views and romanticised images of the palace at Spalatro (modern Split) for Adam’s magnum opus.

In his presentation copies of this magnificent book, Adam appears to have used a hierarchy of binding colour and ornamentation appropriate to the importance of the recipients. For example, royal recipients received red goatskin bindings while friends and lesser patrons received mottled brown calf bindings.

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