Robert Adam: Neo-Classical Architect and Designer

Detail from a ceiling design for 5 Adelphi Terrace, by Robert Adam, England, UK, about 1771. Museum no. W.43-1936

Detail from a ceiling design for 5 Adelphi Terrace, by Robert Adam, England, UK, about 1771. Museum no. W.43-1936

Robert Adam (1728–92) was one of the most important British architects working in the Neo-classical style. He was a main force in the development of a unified style that extended beyond architecture and interiors to include both the fixed and moveable objects in a room. He incorporated design ideas from ancient Greece and Rome into his forms and decoration. His famous London houses include Kenwood House, Osterley Park and Syon House.

Born in Kirkaldy, Scotland, Robert Adam was the son of the established architect William Adam, and followed him into the family practice. In 1754 he embarked on a ‘Grand Tour’, spending five years in France and Italy visiting classical sites and studying architecture. On his return Adam established his own practice in London with his brother James. Although classical architecture was already becoming popular, Adam developed his own style, known as the Adam style or Adamesque. This style was influenced by classical design but did not follow Roman architectural rules as strictly as Palladianism did.

The Adam interior

View transcript of video

Interactive Map

Discover the many treasures in the beautiful V&A galleries, find out where events are happening in the Museum or just check the location of the café, shops, lifts or toilets. Simple to use, the V&A interactive map works on all screen sizes, from your tablet or smartphone to your desktop at home.

Launch the Interactive Map

Shop online

Sir William Chambers

Sir William Chambers

A model publication of its kind' Howard Colvin, Society of Architectural Historians A catalogue of over 800 of the surviving drawings of Sir William C…

Buy now

Event - The Classical World and Classical Revivals

Tue 13 January 2015 10:30

10 WEEK COURSE: The civilisations of Ancient Greece and Rome have provided a seemingly inexhaustible source of inspiration for European art, design and architecture from the 15th-century right up to the present day. This course celebrates the opening of the V&A’s outstanding new galleries – Europe 1600-1800 – by exploring the key elements of Classicism, and their re-interpretation and revival in later times.

Book online