“The Adam Family: The Scottish Architects Who Changed the World” will explore the enduring influence of the Adam brothers, who reigned supreme in late 18th-century Britain as the ultimate arbiters of taste and style. The lecture will be presented in cities across the country. See below for dates and locations.
We are absolutely delighted to team up with Curt DiCamillo to present the story of this remarkable family of architects and designers, said Kirstin Bridier, executive director of NTSUSA. As a well-known authority on the British country house – and someone whose heart beats with a Neoclassical rhythm – there is no one better than Curt to bring the enduring beauty of this Scottish-born style to life.
The Adam brothers, sons of William Adam, Sr., the foremost Scottish architect of his time, transformed the direction of architecture and design across the western world during the last half of the 18th century. There was Robert, supreme architect and the most famous of the brothers; James, an architect, furniture designer, and scholar; William Jr., a landscape designer; and John, the business manager of the brothers’ architectural firm.
Robert Adam spent nearly five years studying the ruins of the ancient world under the tutelage of Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Upon his return to England, he rejected the popular Palladian style of Lord Burlington as “disgustful” and set about changing the taste of Britain with a new style of architecture and decoration – the Adam Style, whose influences remain today. Later known as Neoclassical (or Federal in America), the style was so influential that it found its way to remote and exotic places like Russia, where Adam Style palaces were built for Catherine the Great and members of the nobility.
The Adam brothers were distinguished as the first to fully and successfully integrate architecture and interiors. They designed curved walls, domed rooms, and elaborate plasterwork that perfectly meshed with fireplaces, furniture, fixtures, ironwork, carpets, and textiles into a uniform and harmonious whole. Partners like Josiah Wedgwood, Thomas Chippendale, and Matthew Boulton provided the icing on the Neoclassical cake, all brilliantly topped off with colors that had seldom been seen in European interiors: bright sky blue, intense pink, soft lilac, pea green, and the red-brown terracotta of Etruscan vases.
Curt DiCamillo is an American architectural historian and a recognized authority on the British country house. He has written and lectured extensively in the US and abroad and taught classes on British art and culture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. DiCamillo regularly leads international scholarly tours that focus on the architectural heritage of Britain and its influence around the world. Since 1999 he has maintained an award-winning database, The DiCamillo Companion to British & Irish Country Houses. Curt currently serves as curator for special collections at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.