Would you know him from Adam? Today I look at architect and designer Robert Adam.

For a nation that has always looked upon the Romans as invaders who came and went, it may seem strange that during the 18th Century, when the well-heeled had undertaken “The Grand Tour” they sought to bring Roman and Greek classicism back to Britain.

This cultural and hedonistic jolly across Europe and sometimes, what was the Ottoman Empire, saw cart loads of treasures, including obelisks and statues brought back to Britain and indeed Western Europe.

Robert Adam came from Kirkcaldy, eight miles from Fife, north of Edinburgh. Fife really should be honoured as one of Scotland’s indeed Britain’s creative hubs.

Adam was born in 1728, the son of an architect and he ultimately followed in his Dad’s footsteps. He travelled through France and Italy and came face to face with classical architecture which would prove to have a profound effect on his designs.

Salisbury Journal: Chippendale sideboard sits in the Robert Adam Long Gallery, Syon House. Readers might recognise it

He set up an architectural practice in London and soon became a darling of the aristocracy. He would work with and go into business with various artisans and cabinet makers such as Thomas Kent.

Interestingly, Yorkshireman Thomas Chippendale’s publications were initially funded by a number of benefactors from Fife, Scotland and indeed Chippendale would work with Robert Adam to create furniture for his fabulous buildings, such as at Syon House that reflected Adam's design which you can view today at Syon House. In its King Gallery, an original piece of Chippendale furniture sits where it was intended to work with the plasterwork and colours Adam used.

You’ll find Syon House on the outskirts of west London and nearby you'll find Osterley House, run by the National Trust, and there’s a garden centre on site that serves food and drinks too.

Adam used an abundance of columns and swathes of marble, peppered with centrepiece statues.
He was the champion of classical design that became “neoclassical’.

Adam fireplaces, Adam furniture and Adam design became the must-haves of the rich and powerful. Interestingly his furniture is almost geometric and not dissimilar in some ways to the later Regency and Empire styles.

You can buy Adam furniture, but it costs thousands of pounds and rarely appears. 

If you want the look at a fraction of the price, look out for Adam revival furniture from the late 19th and early 20th Century.

Other Robert Adam houses include Harewood in West Yorkshire and Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. 

You could also visit Dumfries House, thirty-seven miles south of Glasgow, or Headfort House, County Meath, Ireland. If you are looking for antique prints of his designs, visit Heatons of Tisbury. 

Andrew Blackall is an English antique dealer with more than 30 years of experience selling period furniture and quirky collector's items to clients across the globe. He has written and produced award-winning film and television productions. He was born in St John’s Wood, London and he grew up in and around London. He currently lives in Avebury, Wiltshire. His love of antiques stems from an early fascination with history and from visiting country homes throughout old England and the British Isles. Many of Andrew’s clients are well known on both sides of the pond, patronising his ability to source antiquities with provenance and appeal. His stock has appeared in several films and TV shows. Andrew has two styles of business: one selling high-end decorative antiques at The Blanchard Collective, the other selling affordable collectables at The Malthouse Collective.

His website is chairmanantiques.co.uk. Instagram is: chairman_antiques