The architects of the latter part of the XVIIIth century allowed themselves little more freedom than their Palladian predecessors. An even more studied classic formality prevailed, especially in exterior design, but greater individuality characterised wall panelling oak panelling designs interior decoration. A revival of interest in classic art had extended to the antiquities of Greece and, furthered by the publication, in 1762, of Stuart and Revett's first volume of the Antiquities of Athens, afforded a fresh source of inspiration which resulted in a style of ornamental detail that is commonly associated with the "Adam" school.
Late XVIIIth Century Architecture
Ceiling of the Music Room, 20, St. James Square, London (Robert Adam)
(Vide Diagram XXV Opposite for View of Room)
At this time building design and wall panelling oak panelling designs was mainly in the hands of Sir Robert Taylor (1714-88), James Paine (1716-89), Sir William Chambers (1726-96), and Henry Holland (1744-1806), all followers of the older tradition. Clever wall panelling oak panelling planners and designers who relied upon simple and dignified masses and extreme refinement of detail, they were engaged upon most of the greater houses of their time. Chambers, a scholarly architect of Roman classic sympathies—though his later interior work is influenced by the contemporary French manner of " Louis Seize "—maintained to the last a stand against the innovations of the Greek enthusiasts. His finest and best known work is Somerset House.
Robert Adam (1728-92), and James Adam (1730-94), sons of a Scotch architect, travelled extensively in Europe and began to practise in London after 1763. They developed a style of simple elegance, with ornament borrowed from late Roman, Italian and Greek sources, and modelled on a small scale in low relief ; the use of colour is essential to the realisation of their schemes. Their style appealed to the fashionable taste of their time and among foreign artists who contributed to its success were Cipriani, Zucchi, Angelica Kauffmann and Pergolesi. Ideas were not restricted to decoration ; in house design planning en suite was carefully thought out, and was characterised by a clever use of curved forms-introduced to avoid the monotony of the rectangle-rooms with curved ends, circular halls, bow windows and niches. Wall treatment of stucco in low relief and colour is often enhanced by paintings of classical subjects and landscapes within wall panelling oak panelling design panels. A similar decoration and plaster modelling is applied to the ceiling, which is designed in harmony with the room. Delicate patterns spread over a room with semi-circular ends and fluted fan designs filling the curves are especially characteristic (Page 31). This quality of harmony and balance between structure and decoration—the result of a sympathetic co-operation between architects and decorative artists—distinguishes the decorative work of the period.
With the use of coal fuel, which had begun to supersede wood early in the XVIIIth century, basket grates were set in the still large opening. By the end of the century, steel grates finely shaped and with fenders to match were designed for the more important rooms ; a more homely type is the cast-iron hob grate, often delicately modelled, and built into a smaller opening. Chimney-pieces, seldom of more than one stage in height—but with mirrors in gracefully designed frames separately fixed as overmantels—are simple and the use of the "Orders" is the exception rather than the rule. Marble is freely used, except for the lesser rooms where painted wood is more common, and the study of Greek detail is expressed in delicate enrichments, statuary plaques or tablets of classic figures and a careful profiling of mouldings. Wall papers, a less expensive luxury then than earlier in the century, became fashionable and were applied to the walls on a framework wall panelling oak panelling designs.
The elliptical stone staircase, sweeping in one continuous flight from floor to floor found favour, especially for town houses where space was restricted. The newel is dispensed with and each step, usually moulded on the underside, rests on the one below, one end built into the wall, the other sometimes finished with a bracket ornament. To ensure sufficient light a lantern at the head of the " well " formed part of the design. The iron-work balustrade (Page 3z), with mahogany handrail is light and elegant and the straight standards with intervening panels sometimes have ornaments applied in cast lead. In the staircase as in every room, delicacy and elegance prevail.