Historical --- Using Adelphi, the Greek word for brothers" as their trademark, the brothers Adam created a new classic furniture style known by their name. Of the four brothers who were architects, Robert - the second and most famous -- was so influenced by the architectural discoveries of the Pompeian excavations that he and his brothers designed houses in this classic style. No furniture could be found to harmonize these interiors and prominent cabinetmakers were commissioned to make it from Robert Adam designs. The designs developed by Robert Adam was inspiration and dominating factor in English furniture design for practically all of the remaining years of the 18th century.
General Attributes --- Adam designed his furniture to form a basic part of his decorative scheme and this gave each room an atmosphere of formal elegance and spaciousness. All Adam designs are characterized by restraint, delicacy and classic simplicity. Proportions are medium weight and lines are straight and rectangular with only a few curves. Construction is simple. Carvings, veneering, inlays and paintings effect ornamentation.
Classical motifs predominate: Lyre drapery swags, rams heads, medallions, pendent husk and honeysuckle. The classic urn however was the most commonly used feature. Adam pieces are also noted for daintily carved moldings. All seating pieces were upholstered with the primary fabrics being moires, brocades, damasks and satins. While mahogany, sycamore, ebony and other woods were being used, satinwood was used to such an extent that the era is known as the Age of Satinwood.
Chairs --- Chairs have slim, tapered legs, round or square and often fluted that typically terminate in a small molded foot. Splats have a variety of designs, husks urns, honeysuckle and above all the lyre. Shields shaped backs by Adams are usually solid. Arms are generally straight and shaped and rest of incarnate supports. In early examples, chair arms were secured to the side seat rails but were later supported by an extension of front legs. Stretchers rarely appear.
Table --- Tables are usually long and narrow with decorated side rails, under framings and moldings. Legs are straight and fluted or turned. More than for legs are sometimes used. Tops were commonly of marble or scagliola.
Other Pieces --- Adam was partial to long benches and window seats because they added formal effect to the drawing room. Other items -- all bearing the classical Adam earmarks --- were mantels, sideboards, upholstered divans, settees, daybeds, commodes, beds, chest, mirrors and desks.
Suggestion For Use --- Replicas of dining room and bedroom pieces are now made in both walnut and mahogany. This style mixes well with Hepplewhite, Sheraton, Phyie, Empire, Louis XIV and Chippendale, but requires a harmonious background.
- Bookcases / Breakfronts / Cabinets
- Bureaus / Secretaires
- Desks / Writing Tables
- Chests / Commodes / Side Cabinets / Tallboys
- Side / Card / Tea Tables
- Occasional / Breakfast / Dining Tables
- Sideboards /Serving Tables
- Console / Center Tables
- Tea Caddies
- Lamps / Wall Lights
- Candlesticks / Candelabra
- Chippendale (1740-1779)
- Adam (1760-1792)
- Hepplewhite (1770-1786)
- Sheraton (1780-1806)
- Regency (1793 - 1830)
- Victorian (1830-1890)