ADAM, Robert (1728-1792)
Ruins of the Diocletian Palace at Spalatro in Dalmatia
[London]: Printed for the author, 1764. Folio. (20 7/8 x 14 3/8 inches). iv, , 33pp. Engraved additional title, 61 engraved plates on 53 sheets (8 double-page, 6 folding), engraved by Bartolozzi, Zucchi, Patton, Santini and others, mostly after original drawings by Charles-Louis Clérisseau. List of subscriber's.
Contemporary mottled calf, covers with gilt cornerpieces, spine with raised bands in eight compartments, lettered in the second, the others with a repeat decoration in gilt, marbled endpapers (expert restoration at corners and top and tail of spine)
First edition of Adam's famous work on the ancient Roman architecture of Spalatro: a cornerstone of 18th-century neo-classicism.
Following a six-week visit to Spalatro, Adam published this book with its elaborately engraved views of the late Roman palace, intending it to emulate the success of Robert Wood's The Ruins of Palmyra published in 1763. In Florence, Adam had met the architect Charles-Louis Clerisseau (1721-1820), who served as Adam's instructor for two years and who supervised much of the engraving for the book in Venice (51 plates) and London (11 plates). While Adam acted as leader of the expedition and contributed architectural observations (as well as gathering subscribers for publication), the preface was written by his cousin, the Scottish historian William Robertson. The engravings were based on drawings by Clerisseau (six of which are preserved in the Hermitage Museum), and were said by the Critical Review in October 1764 to possess "a taste and execution that has never been equalled in this country." Indeed, when Adam returned to Britain in 1758, "the custom's officer at Harwich had so admired the drawings that he had charged no duty" (Millard, p.5). It has been said that the publication of this work launched the Adam style.
Millard II, 1; Berlin Kat. 1893; Brunet I, 46; Cicognara 3567; BAL/RIBA 27; Fowler 2; Harrison pp. 76-81.