Neoclassical style.......................Illustrated Architecture Dictionary................... Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary
Adam style (Adamesque)

Neoclassicism - Terminology
Literally: "New Classicism."
European and American architecture style inspired by Classical Greek - and especially Roman - ruins.
Georgian Four King Georges in England. George III ruled England when Neoclassicism was popular.
Georgian Neoclassical Neoclassicism named after George III in England. Encompasses both Palladian and Adamesque Neoclassical styles.
Palladian Neoclassical Earlier version of European Neoclassicism based on the books of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio who studied Roman ruins in Italy.
Adam style/Adamesque Later version of European Neoclassicism based on Robert's Adam's studies of excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii.
Colonial Styles of architecture during America's colonial period, i.e., before the Revolutionary War. The most prominent style was Georgian because most the colonies were English owned.
Federal The American term for Adamesque after the Revolutionary War. "Federal" is a a patriotic term.
Roman Classicism/ / Jeffersonian Classicism / Classic(al) Revival Neoclassical version inspired by Renaissance-inspired Palladian Neoclassical style. Thomas Jefferson owned three copies of Palladio's books and used Palladian ideals in designing Monticello, etc.

This vision of Neoclassicism competed with the simpler Federal style.
Beaux-Arts Classicism A very rich, lavish and heavily ornamented classical style taught at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris in the 19th century. Influenced the last phase of Neoclassicism in the United States

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An architectural style based on the work of Robert Adam (1728-1792) and his brothers

Basically Neoclassical; it also adapted Gothic, Egyptian. and Etruscan motifs.

His decorative motifs -- medallions, urns, vine scrolls, sphinxes, and tripods -- were taken from Roman art and, as in Roman stucco work, are arranged sparsely within broad, neutral spaces and slender margins.

Robert Adam's interior/exterior decorative approach also included the following:

The style was predominant in England in the late 18th cent. and strongly influential in the U.S.A., Russia. and elsewhere.

The style reached America in the years immediately after the Revolutionary War. Labeled "Federal," it was enthusiastically embraced by Americans, who then adapted it to suit their own tastes and circumstances.


A limited amount of furniture designed by Adam was also manufactured by him, but the style was widely imitated by well-known designers such as Thomas Chippendale, George Hepplewhtite and Thomas Sheraton.

"The eighteenth century included the five great styles of English furniture, that is, the Queen Anne, the Chippendale, the Adam, the Hepplewhite and the Sheraton. It is for this reason termed the "Golden Age" of English cabinet making. - Edgar G. Miller, Jr., American Antique Furniture, 1937, Vol. 1, p. 35

In America, Adamesque furniture is known as Federal.

Robert Adam (1728-92) is considered the greatest British architect of the later eighteenth century. He was equally if not more brilliant as a decorator, furniture designer, etc., for which his name is still a household word. No previous architect had attempted such comprehensive schemes of interior decoration.

Adam was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, the son of a well known Scottish architect. In 1758 he returned from Italy where he had lived for several years, and set up an architectural practice in London with his brothers.

While in Italy he greatly admired the Palladian style and used classical Grecian and Roman ornaments in his designs for both buildings and furniture.

However, he broke new ground by introducing an interpretation of the style which he called Grotesque: "... by grotesque is meant that beautiful light style of ornament used by the ancient Romans in the decoration of their palaces, baths, and villas." This is the basis of the Neoclassical style of which Adam was the principal British exponent. In 1773, 1779, and 1822, the three volumes of The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam were published, posthumously in the case of the third volume.

Adam Brothers, John (1721-1792); Robert (1728-1792); James (1730-1794); William (1739-1822)

Four Scottish architect-designers who greatly influenced English interiors and furniture design during the middle and latter half of the 18th century.

Robert and James were the most famous; they designed important buildings and interiors in a restrained, classic manner, much influenced by the discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum.

These classic motifs appear frequently in their work:

The classic urn appears as a decoration and was also used as a cutlery container and wine cooler.

Amorini, sphinxes, and arabesques were painted on furniture

The Adams also used inserts of Wedgwood medallions, which were frequently designed by John Flaxman, as well as composition ornaments for bas relief ceilings and friezes.

Examples from Buffalo:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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